New Jersey and Connecticut are the latest states to modernize their drivers’ licenses to comply with Real ID, the 2005 federal legislation that bolstered security and issuance requirements for drivers’ licenses and ID cards in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
New Jersey’s Enhanced Digital Driver License was adopted by all 39 Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) agencies on May 11. “The new license, while similar in appearance to the old license, features more than 25 covert and overt features designed to reduce fraud and abuse through updated technology and enhanced security features that are known only to the MVC and its law enforcement partners,” according to an announcement from state officials.
When an overhaul of the MVC’s main computer system is finished late next year, the commission will begin a new, secure central issuance process for all driver license renewals that, according to state officials, should eliminate more than 1 million customer visits per year.
Connecticut is taking a different approach to the issuance of its Real ID-compliant drivers. Connecticut’s program, called SelectCT ID, will be phased in during the next six years in an effort beginning this fall, state officials announced last month. For those who are renewing their licenses, the Real-ID license appears to be optional. Those who wish to present original documents such as a birth certificate or U.S. passport will receive a gold star on their license or ID card that indicates it complies with Real ID. Those who decline the additional identity verification will receive a card marked "Not for Federal Identification."
By 2017, a Real ID-approved form of identification, such as an enhanced driver license or ID, may be required at airport screenings or to enter federal buildings.
But at least 20 states have pushed back by passing legislation that effectively says they won’t comply with the Real ID requirements. A policy position from the National Governors Association released in February said that while governors support the strengthening of security features in state-issued drivers’ licenses and ID cards, Real ID puts unnecessary cost burdens on states and the legislation’s requirements should be revised.
A few states, most prominently California, have been forced to delay the issuance of their enhanced drivers’ licenses because of production difficulties.