Real ID enforcement postponed

The federal government has given Nevada and other states more time to comply with the Real ID Act.

Department of Motor Vehicles Director Ginny Lewis said the extension will allow Nevada's current drivers' licenses to be accepted for federal purposes until the end of 2009. Lewis said that will lighten the burden the act puts on motorists who were looking at having to all show up at DMV to prove who they are with a birth certificate and prove they are legally in the U.S.

Originally, Nevada and all other states were mandated to comply with the act and issue Real ID compliant drivers' licenses to residents by May of this year. That meant every license holder in the state - about 1.8 million - would have to personally appear at DMV with paperwork proving their identity.

Lewis has been warning the Legislature for two years that the state was looking at huge costs to implement the act along with confusion, frustration and public anger.

"They'll have to gather all those identity documents they haven't seen in years and personally take those documents to DMV," she told lawmakers in 2006. "If they can't provide those documents, they'll find themselves walking."

Then, she said, DMV would have to verify the authenticity of those documents before issuing a driver's license.

She estimated Nevada's cost of creating and implementing the Real ID program at $64 million and said it would require DMV to hire about 200 more workers just for Real ID. Nationally, she said the cost is more than $11 billion.

Under the federal law, a drivers' license must be Real ID compliant to be accepted as a valid identification. Without it, a person wouldn't be allowed to enter any federal building, get on a commercial airplane or even apply for Social Security.

Homeland Security officials also agreed to give residents a break in when they must have a Real ID license based on age. People born on or after Dec. 1, 1964, have until Dec. 1, 2014, to get a compliant license or card. Those born before Dec. 1, 1964, have until Dec. 1, 2017.

"Presently, we're reviewing the details of the final rule to determine exactly what it means to Nevada," Lewis said. "But Nevadans can rest assured their current licenses or ID cards will be good for boarding aircraft or entering a federal building for awhile."

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.

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