Group: States should standardize drivers' licenses

Stronger, more uniform processes are needed for issuing state driver's licenses before they can serve as secure identification instead of a national identification card, the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators said Jan. 14.

The group's ID security task force made these recommendations:

*Improve and standardize initial driver's license and ID card processes;

*Standardize the residency definition in all states and provinces;

*Establish uniform procedures for serving those who are not citizens;

*Implement processes to produce a uniform, secure and interoperable driver's license ID card to uniquely identify an individual;

*Establish methods to prevent and detect fraud and to audit the driver's license and ID processes;

*Ensure greater enforcement priority and enhanced penalties for credential fraud;

*Seek U.S. federal and other national requirements for legislation, rulemaking and funding in support of the group's identification and security strategies;

*Establish public and stakeholder awareness and support.

The nonprofit group has sought to improve the process for issuing driver's license in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Each state has its own set of rules for issuing IDs, the group said. This has resulted in "a mixed bag of exploitable processes and procedures," such as different definitions of residency and more than 200 valid forms of identification issued by states.

Without a more uniform process for issuing driver's licenses, motor vehicle officials warn that unscrupulous individuals will continue to exploit the system by shopping around for licenses in states with loose procedures.

The group also recommends more uniform practices across jurisdictions for serving U.S. visitors. Without such measures, a non-U.S. citizen who obtains a driver's license may remain mobile within U.S. borders long after his or her visa has expired.

The group said changes to federal and state law may be necessary to achieve the desired results.

In response to the report, the American Civil Liberties Union called on Congress and the administration to reject any proposal that would turn the driver's licensing system of the 50 states into a de facto national ID.

Calling the group's proposal a "backdoor national ID," ACLU officials said such a system, de facto or otherwise, would be largely ineffective against terrorism and pose enormous threats to individual freedom in the United States.

About the Author

William Welsh is a freelance writer covering IT and defense technology.

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