California Urges Strategic Phase in for REAL ID Act Implementation

California Department of Motor Vehicles
Media Relations Office
2415 First Avenue, MS F-122, Sacramento, CA 95818
Contact: DMV Media Relations

May 08, 2007

Fine-tuning of rules would save states time, money

Sacramento – A strategic, phased-in approach, additional federal funding, privacy and security standards and recognizing the sovereignty of states rights are the key suggestions included in California’s official response to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) proposed rules to the federal REAL ID Act, the Department of Motor Vehicles announced today.

The REAL ID Act, signed by President Bush in 2005, sets national standards for driver’s licenses and identification cards and is scheduled to take effect May 11, 2008. Final regulations could be released by DHS at any time after August of this year.

In a letter from DMV Director George Valverde and state Homeland Security Director Matthew Bettenhausen, California urged the Department of Homeland Security to revisit the issues of implementation strategies and cost.

“The Governor believes the intent of REAL ID is worthy, but concerns exist in the areas of funding, adequate time and privacy and security,” said DMV Director George Valverde. “California proposes changing the discussion to include a different approach toward implementing the Act that is more realistic and cost-effective.

“Identity protection and the concept of ‘One Driver, One Record,’ are of vital concern to California. As technology evolves in the marketplace and in our daily lives, driver’s licenses issued by the DMV are universally recognized as identity documents, so it is in our best interests to ensure that a citizen’s personal information is protected to the highest degree possible.”

California’s suggested implementation strategy includes three phases involving performance based standards, development of needed information systems, and potential re-certification of driver license and identification card holders as needed.

“This strategic approach establishes clear and consistent threshold levels of security for states to achieve for REAL ID compliance, instead of the burdensome, all or nothing, recertification process outlined in the proposed regulations,” said Director Valverde.

In addition, the $500 million to $750 million projected cost to California over the five-year renewal period are amounts that California taxpayers cannot be expected to pay. “It is critical that the DHS seek the necessary funding through the federal budget process to cover implementation costs to the states,” said Director Valverde.

The phased-in approach is also consistent with California’s position that the federal government should acknowledge the sovereignty of states rights and respect the traditional state function of licensing drivers and issuing identification cards, without prescriptive processes for their creation and issuance.

The state response was officially transmitted to DHS yesterday in advance of today’s 60-day public comment period deadline. Since March 8, the DMV facilitated a detailed analysis of the proposed regulations through the California REAL ID Steering Committee, comprised of 11 state agencies and departments.

For a complete account of California’s response to the Notice of Proposed Rule Making, log on to

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