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The Real ID Act: Law Establishes National ID System for Americans

10 January 2007 Published in State Policy Work

The Real ID Act: Law Establishes National ID System for Americans

What is Real ID? (From an ACLU of Utah 2007 Report)
The Real ID Act was railroaded through Congress in May 2005 without meaningful hearings or debate. Although Real ID is scheduled to become effective in May 2008, many states are passing legislation urging Congress to repeal the law. If the law goes into effect as is, Real ID will turn state drivers’ licenses into national identity cards and will make getting a driver’s license a real nightmare of slow service and bureaucratic dead ends.

Real ID puts pressure on states to comply by setting uniform standards that will be required on every driver’s license and identity card. The act says that drivers’ licenses and state ID cards will not be accepted for “federal purposes” such as boarding aircraft, entering federal facilities, and opening a bank account, unless states meet all of the following conditions:

  • Verify the “issuance, validity and completeness” of every document presented at motor vehicle agencies as part of an application for a Real ID card;
  • Retain a digital scan of source identity documents like birth certificates for at least 10 years (or a paper copy for 7 years);
  • Take part in a 50-state shared database making each person’s information available to other states and the federal government (as well as making that information more vulnerable to theft); and
  • Incorporate in drivers’ licenses a “machine readable zone” that will allow for the easy capture of personal data by private companies or anyone with a reader.

Read more the ACLU of Utah's 2007 Report >>

See a U.S. map showing 2009 state legislative activity opposing Real ID (PDF) >>

See a U.S. map showing 2009 state legislative activity opposing Real ID (PDF) >>

The ACLU of Utah sends a letter to entire legislature supporting HB 325, "Opting Out of Real ID Act." (PDF) (2/25/09)

Utah House of Representatives Passes Resolution Opposing Real ID (2007)

Citing new documents revealing the high costs for Utah’s implementation of the Real ID Act, the ACLU of Utah calls on state lawmakers to pass a resolution urging Congress to amend the Act. (1/12/06)

Read our 2006 letters to Governor Jon Huntsman, Senate President John Valentine, Senate Majority Leader Peter Knudson, Senate Minority Leader Mike Dmitrich, House Speaker Greg Curtis, House Majority Leader Jeff Alexander, and House Minority Leader Ralph Becker