Connecticut to begin controversial ‘Real ID’ program

Unverified ID

An ‘unverified’ license

Connecticut launched a campaign today to publicize how to obtain a driver’s license that meets the stricter verification standards of a federal “Real ID” law passed in 2005, but never implemented in face of objections from two dozen states.

Beginning Oct. 3, drivers in Connecticut will have two choices when renewing their licenses: accept a license stamped “not for federal identification,” or provide proof of residence and immigration status for an ID with a gold star.

“People will need to make an informed choice,” said Melody Currey, the commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles. “We want to be sure we get the word out.”

Real ID was a reaction to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, but it has provoked objections on the political left and right over privacy issues and questions over the federal government’s right to dictate license standards to states.

It also has prompted fears that the two types of licenses will be used to against illegal immigrants or those whose ethnicity often leads to questions about their citizenship.

Werner Oyanadel, the acting executive director of the Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission, said the panel is monitoring the program, but it has not raised objections about how it is being implemented in Connecticut.

Critics have said it will do little improve security, and its full implementation is not scheduled until 2017, sixteen years after the 9-11 attacks. The state is beginning now, because it has a six-year cycle of renewals.

It is expected that the new IDs then will be used to screen airline passengers and people seeking access to federal office buildings. Those without the new licenses could face extra screenings.

Currey said airline flyers or persons who frequently have business in federal buildings should consider the new licenses, although a passport will serve the same purpose.

But David McGuire, a staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union in Connecticut, said the ACLU advises people to skip the hassle of gathering the documents necessary to obtain the new verified license.

“There really is no need to jump through the hoops and get the verified license,” he said. With half the states rebelling, he said, “There is virtually no chance that ‘Real ID’ will ever be implemented, or you won’t be able to fly without a verified license or enter a federal building.”

The ACLU is among the critics of the federal law, but McGuire complimented Connecticut for giving its residents an opportuity to opt out.

“In general we’ve had some real concerns about privacy and fairness associated with ‘Real ID’ on the national level, and we have been carefully following implementation in Connecticut,” he said. “The bottom line is we do applaud the DMV in our state.”

The DMV is airing radio commercials in English and Spanish to instruct drivers of the choice they will have at renewal time – and the documents required to obtain a “Real ID,” known as “SelectCT ID” in Connecticut.

One need do nothing until their license or other DMV-issued identification is up for renewal. The expiration date is printed on every license, next to the date of birth.

Renewals of new or old-style licenses can be obtained at DMV or AAA offices.

The old license or ID is all that is necessary for a renewal, unless the applicant wants a “SelectCT ID.” In that case, residents must provide proof of identity, immigration status, Connecticut residency, and Social Security number.

And that is the purpose of the advertising campaign: To save drivers from the aggravation of being told they lack the documentation for an ID meeting the new federal standards. More than 30,000 licenses are renewed every month.

Two forms of ID are required, and one must come from the following list:

U.S. birth certificate or registration of birth; U.S. passport or passport card; foreign passport with a U.S. visa and I-94; certificate of naturalization; certificate of citizenship; permanent resident card; or consular report of birth abroad.

The second form of ID can be from a lengthy list, including a U.S. or Canadian photo drivers license or learners permit, military ID or dependent ID, military discharge papers, marriage license or civil union certificate, and firearms permit.

To prove residency in Connecticut, one must bring two documents showing your name and address.

Acceptable documents include a pre-printed pay stub, first-class mail, Medicaid or Medicare benefit statement, bank statement or a computer-generated bill from a bank, mortgage company, utility, credit card company, doctor or hospital.

To prove your valid Social Security number, bring a recent W-2 or a Social Security card as issued by the Social Security administration, not one that is laminated or otherwise altered.

If you have changed your name, you must have a marriage or civil union certificate, a marriage or civil union dissolution or a probate court name change document.