Governors: Security Checks to Cause Drivers License Costs to Soar
In the name of homeland security, motorists are going to see costs skyrocket for driver’s licenses and motor vehicle offices forced to operate like local branches of the FBI, the nation’s governors warn.
The new federal law squeezed this spring into an $82 billion spending bill had Republican and Democrat governors fuming at their summer meeting here, and vowing to bring their complaints to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff at a Monday meeting. “It’s outrageous to pass this off on the states,” said Republican Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, incoming chairman of the National Governors Association. “You’re essentially asking the front-line clerks at the DMV to become an INS agent and a law enforcement agent.” The law that passed in June goes beyond an earlier law that sought to standardize state driver’s licenses, requiring that states verify license applicants are American citizens or legal residents. “This is going to drive the cost of driver’s licenses for ordinary folks through the roof,” said Democrat Tom Vilsack of Iowa. “I think it’s going to drive people crazy.”
The law would demand skills of motor vehicle office clerks far beyond what is currently expected, governors said. Democrat Bill Richardson of New Mexico said the law, known as the REAL ID Act, unconstitutionally infringed upon state laws such as his, where illegal immigrants have been able to get licenses. New Mexico’s approach made roads safer since licensed immigrants could get insured, helped the state keep track of immigrants, and also helped integrate immigrants into the community, he said. “It’s a shortsighted, ill-conceived initiative,” Richardson said. “We’ll challenge it constitutionally.”
I confess that I don’t understand the administrative dynamics involved and it may be much more expensive than meets the eye. That said, I had to supply my birth certificate when I registered for school, when I was going out for sports, and at various other times. How much can it cost to require a clerk to take a look at the document, perhaps make a photocopy of it for the office files, and then check the appropriate box?