Some driver's licenses might not pass ID act's muster

By Kate Rice
Some travelers might discover that the driver's licenses they've been using to get through airport security won't be an acceptable form of identification after Jan. 15.

The final implementation of the Real ID Act of 2005, passed as part of recommendations made by the 9/11 Commission, is scheduled to go into effect Jan. 15. Many states have not yet met the standards the act requires of state driver's licenses when used as identification when flying. Previously the Department of Homeland Security has delayed implementation of this final rule, but it is not commenting what it will do about this latest deadline.

The act set new standards for state driver's licenses, but more than a dozen states have passed laws against the standards. One group of states has passed legislation calling the mandate a cost-prohibitive and unfunded mandate, according to Andrew Meehan, a policy analyst for the Coalition for a Secure Driver's License. A second group has passed legislation saying that they recognize that it is a federal law but they don't like it. And a third group of states have passed legislation saying that they will not comply with the law.

That means that when the final standards go into effect -- and implementation has already been delayed at least three times -- people carrying cards from noncompliant states will have to go through additional screening.

The Department of Homeland Security does not prohibit travelers from boarding flights without ID, but they do require such travelers to go through secondary screening.

To be compliant, driver's licenses must have overt, covert and forensic security features. Overt would be something visible to the naked eye, such as a watermark. Covert would be something readable only by machine or with a magnifying glass. And forensic would be something embedded in a card that would show whether the card had been tampered with.

Follow Kate Rice on Twitter @krtravelweekly.
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