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Directions in Highway Safety, Spring 2007 Cover Page Download Newsletter pdf
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Spring 2007 | Vol. 10 | No. 1

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Homeland Security Extends Deadline for State Compliance with REAL ID Act

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The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently announced it will extend the deadline for states to comply with the REAL ID Act to December 31, 2009, a year and a half later than the original deadline of May 11, 2008. DHS made this concession after many governors and members of Congress objected to the original deadline, pointing out that many states may have difficulty complying by then. States must request an extension and will be required to submit proposed timetables for compliance.

The extension came as part of DHS's proposed regulations to create a national standard for state-issued driver's licenses, mandated by the REAL ID Act. Congress passed the act in 2005, in response to the 9/11 attacks and the desire to raise the security standards on drivers' licenses.

Also included in the proposed regulations is a provision allowing up to 20 percent of a state's Homeland Security Grant Program funds to be used to help implement REAL ID. The National Conference of State Legislatures and the National Governors Association estimate the cost to comply with the act will reach $11 billion.

The American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) issued a statement in support of the deadline extension, noting that state DMVs "are encouraged that DHS came to realize the complexity of the driver's licensing and ID credentialing process and committed the time and resources to learning more about a process that impacts some 245 million people in the United States."

GHSA is interested in the REAL ID Act because its implementation will mean greater uniformity in driver licensing information. Such information is a critical component of a state's traffic records system and an important component of their DUI data systems.