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EDITORIAL

Now, we don't have to rush to comply federally

We can just keep using our driver's licenses to operate our cars.

Friday, August 14, 2009 - 10:30 am

Indiana motorists who have to renew their driver's licenses beginning in January should now give thanks to Gov. Mitch Daniels and the state officials who run the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. The BMV has decided to slow down a little in its mad dash to make this state one of the first to embrace a de facto national ID card.

That card, known as Real ID, was commanded by Congress after the 9/11 terrorist attacks but has been resisted by many states as too intrusive and too expensive. So Congress is considering weaker and less-expensive-to-comply-with standards known as Pass ID. But Indiana decided to go ahead with Real ID anyway, declaring that license renewal would require a one-time presentation of documents proving identity, residence and Social Security number. This would make our licenses “federally compliant.”

But now the state has decided to give those renewing their licenses the option of getting the compliant cards or the plain old “federally noncompliant” driver's licenses they've always used. To get the latter, drivers must present their old licenses and sign an affidavit that they've been informed they may not be able to use the cards to board airplanes or enter certain federal buildings - at some point in the future. They can still use the licenses for purposes of voter identification and, of course, driving.

Gov. Daniels said the policy change was made to appease some motorists worried that they would not be able to locate all the documents in a timely manner to renew their driver's licenses before the federal standards are enforced. The proof required means people have to show such things as birth certificates, Social Security cards and passports, things Hoosiers may or may not have lying around.

But the truth is that the federal requirements likely won't even kick in until 2016. The option being offered Hoosiers means they can, if they choose, take the whole six years to become “federally compliant.”

And, who knows? Perhaps by then, Congress will have lost its appetite for a national ID card and come to the conclusion that there are better ways of thwarting identity thieves and identifying potential terrorists.