New rules for state-issued I.D. cards

January 11, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
The government is cracking down on the way states issue identification cards. It's called the Real I.D. Act and it's designed to prevent people from illegally getting a drivers' license, just as most of the 9/11 hijackers did. Everyone in the country must carry federally-compliant I.D. cards by 2017. There's no need to rush to the DMV because the state of California's version won't likely be ready until 2010.

All states, including California, must now issue drivers licenses and I.D. cards according to new federal standards under the Real I.D. Act.

  • Applicants must present proof of citizenship or legal status
  • The source of those documents must be verified
  • The cards themselves must have security features to prevent counterfeiting and multiple licensing in several states

The new cards would be needed to board airplanes and enter federal buildings.

"People who overstayed their visas had a form of documentation that made it seem to the innocent observer that they were in this country legally. Under today's rules, we're going to put a stop to that activity," says U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.

While California DMV has already implemented some of those federal requirements, it has asked for a two-year waiver before it has to comply.

"What we're doing is going through a very thoughtful and deliberative review process of the final regs to see how they sync up with California's privacy and security standards that we have on the books now," says Mike Marando with the DMV.

The American Civil Liberties Union and other privacy advocates are concerned.

"Real I.D. creates a national database, which if breeched or intruded into, provide identity thieves a wealth of information," says Democratic Assm. Dave Jones of Sacramento.

There is a provision in the Real I.D. Act allowing states to enact a specially marked driver's license that would only be for illegal immigrants, but it would not let them on a plane or in a federal building. That gives State Senator Gil Cedillo's proposal a boost.

"We can make sure all motorists in California are licensed, tested and insured, and that our nation is more secure," says Democratic State Senator Gil Cedillo of Los Angeles.

However, the governor has twice vetoed Senator Cedillo's proposal, and a third version is pending in the assembly.

In past veto messages, the governor said he wants to see both the identification regulations and immigration reform implemented before considering a special license for illegal immigrants.