By: Homeland Security Today Staff
Enforcement of the REAL ID Act will begin in April, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced. The enforcement will start in steps within restricted areas of DHS headquarters, followed by a phased approach with substantial enforcement in 2016.
The REAL ID Act prohibits the federal government from accepting driver’s licenses and ID cards that do not meet minimum security standards set by DHS no later than May 2017. The minimum standards require that driver’s license security features be routinely upgraded to be counterfeit resistant and require applicants to provide documentary proofs confirm true identity.
REAL ID compliant driver’s licenses and ID cards are key elements of the nation’s homeland security strategy. Enforcement of the law will clarify and differentiate between compliant state-issued identity credentials versus less reliable proofs of identity when admitting people to secure federal facilities or, beginning in 2016, to board airlines.
“Taking another step toward a key recommendation of the 9/11 Commission … Every state has a more secure driver’s license today than they did before the passage of the act,” DHS said. Currently, DHS has determined that forty-one states and territories are either fully compliant with the REAL ID standards or have made sufficient progress to qualify for an extension. States have already successfully implemented more than 70 percent of the standards, demonstrating the achievability of the law.”
The government will begin phasing in enforcement of the REAL ID Act as required by law, “in a measured, fair, responsible and achievable way,” DHS said. “The first phase will begin on January 20, 2014 and is limited to DHS headquarters in Washington before expanding to other Federal facilities later this year. The fourth phase covers acceptable IDs that can be used for boarding a federally regulated commercial aircraft. Before a date for Phase 4 is set, DHS will conduct an evaluation to inform a fair and achievable timeline. The date for implementing Phase 4 will be set after the evaluation has been complete; this phase will occur no sooner than 2016.
“States have made considerable progress in meeting the need identified by the 9/11 Commission to make driver’s licenses and other identification more secure,” said David Heyman, Assistant Secretary for Policy. “DHS will continue to support their efforts to enhance the security in an achievable way that will make all of our communities safer.”
“We are strongly encouraged that REAL ID enforcement will finally get underway so all states get the message that consequences for non-compliance will soon start to affect their residents,” said Coalition for a Secure Driver’s License (CSDL) President Brian Zimmer. “The phased approach should ensure that the public is well informed that enforcement is coming.