States get 'Real ID' extensions
By Mimi Hall, USA TODAY
April 4, 2008
The Homeland Security Department announced Wednesday that it has granted all 50 states extensions to a requirement that they produce new tamper-proof driver's licenses. The extensions allow people to continue to use their current licenses to board airplanes and enter federal buildings until the law requiring more secure licenses begins to take effect in 2014.

The department granted its final extension to Maine, which along with more than a dozen other states, has fiercely resisted the new requirement amid concerns about the privacy implications and costs.

ARCHIVES: Chertoff unveils new driver's license rules

Despite that resistance, the states were granted extensions after promising to take — or proving they already had taken — early steps to improve their licenses. On Wednesday, Maine Gov. John Baldacci promised to push legislation in his state to stop the practice of issuing licenses to illegal immigrants.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said it's crucial that the states with easily forged licenses improve security. "It's one thing for somebody to get a phony beer with a license, but it's another thing to allow a terrorist on a plane," he said.

The "REAL ID law" was passed by Congress in 2005 after the 9/11 Commission reported that 18 of the 19 hijackers had obtained driver's licenses that allowed them to board planes. The law requires states to make licenses more secure by verifying each applicant's citizenship and address, sharing information with other state motor vehicle departments and creating licenses that are more difficult to forge.

Original article: USA Today
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