Monday, May 07, 2012

ACLU Blocks New Jersey TRU-ID Law From Implementation

New Jersey's Motor Vehicles Commission (MVC) was supposed to begin handling drivers license renewals and new issuances under the federal REAL-ID standard that was years in the making starting today. The New Jersey program was called TRU-ID, and required individuals to provide specific kinds of identification to prove that they are who they say they are. That included unexpired drivers licenses or passports, proof of address information, and a Social Security card.

Yet, over the weekend, the ACLU managed to convince a judge to issue an injunction blocking the implementation.
Under the new standards, people could no longer state their Social Security number but would have to show the card itself, a paystub or tax documents. They also would have to show two proofs of residence, rather than the one that's required now. And if a passport is used, it would have to be current and not recently expired.

The new federal standards must be met in order for driver's licenses or IDs to be used for boarding a commercial flight or entering a federal building, for example. That means the state's Motor Vehicle Commission must provide every license- or ID-holder with new documents.

In its motion, the ACLU noted concerns about how the state would collect, store and protect the personal information that people would be required to present under the new standards. They also cited the likely "substantial costs" of implementing the new standards, and said many people — such as domestic violence victims, homeless people and Americans who were born in other countries — would likely face new, major hurdles in getting or renewing licenses.

Any delay in imposing the new standards in New Jersey will likely delay implementation of another recent MVC initiative known as Skip the Trip. Under that program, residents born on or before Dec. 1, 1964, with licenses or other IDs expiring in July or later would be able to renew their driver licenses or identification cards by mail.

The state says mail renewals for about 1 million customers 48 and older — at least for the next several years — will make it easier for New Jersey to make the move to a more stringent ID system required by federal law.
The ACLU waited until days before the law takes effect to come out with this injunction? They had months and years to question and get the MVC to address its privacy concerns - concerns it's had since REAL ID was passed. After all, the ACLU has been opposed to these changes for years.
Under the Real ID program, driver's licenses no longer qualify as a valid form of federal identification for purposes such as air travel. Those who carried out the 9/11 attacks boarded the planes with state-issued driver's licenses that were obtained fraudulently. The bipartisan 9/11 Commission recommended establishing federal license requirements.

The program will affect many travelers. At Newark Airport, an estimated 70% of travelers currently use driver's licenses to board, Mr. Horan said.

States were originally supposed to implement the program by 2008, but the deadline was extended to January 2013.

Resistance to the new licenses has grown among local governments, with 39 states considering or proposing legislation to bar the implementation of Real ID. State officials have argued that the program is an unfunded mandate. Congress has provided $221.4 million to implement the program, though the federal government estimated that it will cost $3.9 billion, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

New Jersey was set to become the 10th state to begin adopting a Real ID.
Yet, they didn't do so. Now, they're creating a bureaucratic mess and one that will have consequences for those who were going to be getting licenses. I am supposed to get my license renewed, and had waited for the TRU-ID licensing to be available because it would make things easier for me down the road; I'd be getting a license that will be accepted nationally for showing ID for flights and other similar activities.

Instead, the delays will mean having to get a license under the old standard that will mean having to go back for a REAL ID capable license down the road.


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