DMV on Real ID

Since I’m having trouble finding time to comment, I can at least pass some stuff on to y’all to discuss, such as this release from DMV:

Contact: Beth Parks

Blythewood, SC – March 6, 2008 – As the deadline for states to apply for the federal  Real ID extension approaches, many South Carolina citizens question how Real ID will affect them as individuals.

"While the decision to comply or not comply with Real ID is up to state officials, it’s important for the citizens of South Carolina to understand how it will affect them," said Executive Director Marcia Adams.

Compared to the way SCDMV currently issues driver licenses and identification cards, the process to issue a compliant Real ID credential will change considerably.  SCDMV must take customer source documents, such as a birth certificate or social security card, and verify them for authenticity and scan them into SCDMV records. SCDMV expects these additional steps to increase the average wait time in a field office from 15 minutes to 45-60 minutes. That wait could grow to as much as two hours during peak operating times.

The cost for a Real ID compliant credential will also significantly increase. The current cost for a 10 year license is $25.00. A Real ID compliant credential, which can only be valid for eight years, may cost as much as $60.00. To implement Real ID, SCDMV must develop new processes and build verification systems that do not exist on the state and federal level. South Carolina will require $16 million in non-recurring funds and $10 million in recurring funds to implement and maintain the Real ID program.

SCDMV will not be able to issue Real ID compliant credentials over the counter as it is done today. SCDMV will be required to change to a central issuance model, which means that customers will not be able to leave a field office with compliant credentials on the same day as their visit. Instead, they will be issued a temporary non-compliant credential. The credential cannot be issued until SCDMV has electronically verified all of the source documents. The compliant credential will be issued from SCDMV headquarters and mailed to the customer within 2-3 weeks of their office visit. SCDMV will continue to serve customers that do not want a compliant credential. The credential they receive, however, must be marked as non-compliant.

Beth S. Parks

Communications Director


Make of it what you will. Here is our editorial position on the immediate political question before us.

17 thoughts on “DMV on Real ID

  1. Mike Cakora

    Full disclosure: my employer was the prime contractor for the current DMV system; we no longer support that system in any manner.
    With that out of the way I can write that your editorial position makes sense in the context of federal law and that the difficulties that SC citizens will face if / when Real ID is implemented as described in the press release is accurate.
    What’s unfortunate is that SC has been among the majority of states in requiring proof of identity when issuing driver (or simply identification) credentials: applicants have had to present the sort of documents that Real ID requires, or must be transferring in from a state that has the same standards. That’s why folks moving to the Palmetto State from our neighbor to the north, the Other Carolina, have to produce more than just their NC driver license to get the SC version because for several years NC required only a utility bill or cash advance receipt as proof of identity in obtaining a license.
    The costly problem SC faces is the stringent record-retention and chain-of-documentation standards of the federal Real ID law. For years SC did not retain and store copies of some or all of these documents and will, under the law, have to acquire and store them, a big pain for all involved. Folks will have to get and turn over to the DMV documents like certified copies of birth certificates and Social Security cards in order to renew their licenses. The DMV will, at a minimum, have to increase the storage capacity of its document servers, provide specialized training on document verification and operation of biometric capture devices to its personnel, purchase and integrate certified biometric capture devices, purchase and integrate new credential printers, etc. Not cheap.
    But, the issue is really not one of cost, it’s all about verification. The logic is that if one wants to identify bad guys, one must establish the means of verifying that someone is who s/he is and is not bad for purposes of homeland security, immigration enforcement, and identity theft crimes. For example, we cannot enforce immigration law unless we have a means of verifying a person’s status as legal. We can’t simply ignore ID requirements for citizens and require that only immigrants have some sort of verifiable ID. How does a cop stop someone, ask if the suspect has an ID, and then deal with the response “I don’t need one, I’m a citizen”? The only answer in this case is to detain the person, run a check on whatever ID the suspect has, and then evaluate. In other words, the only way to identify persons in this country illegally is to ensure that everyone else has a foolproof ID showing their citizenship status and/or right to residency.
    The governor and others can resist Real ID to their hearts’ content, but the simple fact is that a verifiable ID for all US citizens and residents is an essential element to the detection of illegal immigrants of all sort.

  2. James D McCallister

    The cost of the new ID at $60 is an unfair burden on lower income people. If it’s so important to have this ID to identify “bad guys”, then let the government absorb the cost. We’re already taxed to death in this state.
    Well, not cigarettes. Thank goodness the legal drug addicts get a break.

  3. Lee Muller

    DMV knew this was in the works since 1997, when they decided to develop their own DL system internally, instead of buying a proven system for 1/3 the money.
    The equipment is inexpensive, the process simple, and some state DL and other private ID systems have been doing it since 1998. It adds about $1.00 to the cost of a license. The state NCIS and FBI background check for a firearms purchase takes about 15 seconds if you are clean and have a name less common than John Smith, and costs very little. Some states
    The records retention shouldn’t be an issue. DL systems already should have 20 years of record retention, because an applicant at the DMV counter should generate an instant check of his former state and all adjoining states in about 5 seconds.
    I have built these systems before, and am currently building a private security system which uses all of the DL, SS ID, other IDs, and the TWIC (if the feds ever get it working for $20,000,000).

  4. Mike Cakora

    Lee –
    The DMV has not been storing digital images of identity documents for twenty years. Even if it had been doing so, it had not been verifying each document with its issuer. While DHS has watered down some of the more stringent and impractical verification steps, it has substituted others, meaning that most current drivers will have to provide birth certificates (for verification via the EVVE [Electronic Verification of Vital Events] system) and some sort of proof of SSAN verification via the SSOLV (Social Security On-Line Verification) system. You can get the details here.
    DMV did not create its own DL credential system, but bought the existing Viisage system that’s used in many jurisdictions.

  5. Lee Muller

    DMV has spent millions modifying a base DL system. Georgia spent $4,600,000 do develop their own, using a grant from Al Gore’s program to create a National ID card. Remember when SC DMV sold it database to Image Data, which was a front company for the Treasury Dept, which was building a national database on Americans under the covers for Gore? Georgia had to scrap their system after so many lawsuits for identity theft.
    Since 1999, SC DMV has spent millions more adding enhancements. They developed their own interface to the insurance industry portal just a few years ago.
    As the architect, designer, and development manager of the most widely-used DL system, I think SC spent more money than necessary, and I know they did not do the proper job of requirements writing to anticipate future trends, because I saw the requirements, only after filing a 1999 FOIA for what would have been a public document for a bidded system.
    SSOLV is not sufficient by itself. Illegal aliens commonly use several bogus IDs built on legitimate SSID cards, and are usually carrying forgeries of those.
    Currently, the Transportation Worker ID Card (TWIC), requires an in-hand verification by a security officer for access or egress of a TWIC domain. In the future, the plan will be to integrate biometric information for secondary verification of fingerprints, retina, DNA, etc. I used this scheme for a nuclear weapons badge system in 1997.

  6. Gordon Hirsch

    Mike … How can we prevent a National ID from becoming intrusive in terms of personal privacy? I have no argument for the need to identify citizenship, but even the old Social Security card ended up as requirement for many things it was never intended to be. Any national ID poses even greater potential to become a requirement of participation in society, or abuse by law enforcement.

  7. Mike Cakora

    Gordon – You write:

    Any national ID poses even greater potential to become a requirement of participation in society, or abuse by law enforcement.

    Are not a lot of folks clamoring for a means of identifying those who are here illegally? About the only way to do that readily is to have something like the Real ID, a credential that’s difficult to counterfeit and positively identifies the holder’s identity through the combination of a picture, biometric data, etc.
    It’s not the ID itself that’s worrisome. Most of us welcome proof of who we are when shopping, getting credit for a mortgage or car loan, etc. What bothers most folks is the suspicion that someone will use the personal information in a way that’s detrimental to our well-being through identity theft, covert surveillance, stalking, and whatever other bad thing we can think of. Criminals will be able to establish connections between one individual and oodles of other data, like financial accounts, medical records, and other personal information.
    The fact is that you don’t need access to someone’s Real ID to do any of that, as the Internet crooks engaged in phishing or spam and dumpster divers know well. Ask a couple of private investigators what resources are available to them if you want to lose sleep at night. Or click here and enter your address.
    In the discussion above, Lee and I were going on about one small portion of DMV operations, the credential issuing feature. That’s fed in part by a couple of humongous databases: driver records and vehicle titling & registration. Driver records includes violations and suspension records; the vehicle portion is obviously linked to drivers too. So right now you could access an individual’s driving record knowing only a name, getting the address and links to the vehicle(s) she owns and their plate numbers; if any are financed, you can get the name of the financing institution and other specifics. You can do mischief with that info and just a little more.
    Heck, as Lee implied above, if a driver drops insurance from a company, DMV gets notified and looks to see if another insurer issued a policy on the vehicle. If not, bells go off and someone gets into a lot of trouble. But that’s a legal use, one mandated by law.
    What prevents abuse are the access restrictions DMV puts on its data and the scrutiny it exercises over its employees. Real ID won’t change any of the capabilities that any DMV has now. What the program behind it will change is access to that by law enforcement in other states, but a lot of that is being done now.
    We often confuse privacy and anonymity; most folks don’t grasp intellectually the elements of either, but rather react emotionally when confronted with what seems to be a threat to either. I can understand that. I also understand the mistrust many feel for government because they’ve learned of abuses of one sort or another. So it’s difficult to have a thoughtful discussion of the threats to liberty that a program like Real ID poses.

  8. Gordon Hirsch

    Mike … thanks. I co-founded a company that authors and markets db software, access control systems, credentialing services, ID card issuance, box office and online ticketing systems, etc. We serve the US Open golf tournament, Grammy Awards and other high security entertainment events, the annual Clinton Global Initiative meetings of world leaders, plus scores of sports venues, performing arts centers, and live entertainment venues. So I get what you and Lee were discussing.
    Much of what we do is about managing and mining personal information from private and government sources. None of that bothers me because people give the information we use freely, with restrictions on how it will be used, and we use it lawfully. What bothers me is compelling people to give this information for Real ID, knowing the vulnerabilities of government systems and employees, without limits on how it will be used, now or in the future. Where the government’s involved, that’s not paranoia or emotional concern.
    Already, by Congressional mandate, my mobile phone-PDA can tell where I am via GPS, who I’m communicating with, where they are, what I’m buying, etc., but I can turn that off and still engage in all of those activities anonymously — for now at least. Real ID will likely become compulsory in private and public institutions, with tracking capabilities and linkage to commerce networks — yielding a data profile of each citizen. That’s not Orwellian pie in the sky, and you guys know it, too.
    And the government is a lousy data custodian. I feel more at risk giving them data than private business, which is subject to law and liability, where government is not.
    Any network is as secure as its weakest link. Under Real ID, a part-time DMV employee in Nevada could sell you out for slot-machine change.
    As well, 10th Amendment objections to Real ID are valid, in my opinion.
    And Homeland Security is a cesspool of profiteering and abuse that I’ve observed first hand, with a blank check from Congress to interpret the law as it wishes, all under the guise of national security.
    In short, Real ID gives me the willies. And not just for the sake of liberty.

  9. Lee Muller

    The biggest problem with Real ID at the moment is that it is trying to force state DMVs to sign agreements to be compliant in the future, with something which has not yet been described.
    The SSN is not supposed to be used for identification purposes outside of employment and personal income taxation. Demanding it as verification not only continues is misuse and abuse, but it is not a reliable ID. Just look at how many illegals from Mexico us it to obtain a NC driver’s license from the nation’s slackest DMV.
    How about using other ID’s to board an interstate airplane flight? What’s wrong with a military photo ID, or a concealed weapons photo ID, which has an FBI background check behind it?
    Congress, like out state legislatures, churns out laws with very little thought or diligence.

  10. Mike Cakora

    I could be wrong on this, but I think that states could implement Real ID separate and apart from the driver license. One needs a Real ID “only” for flying on commercial aircraft, certain other specific functions, or travel outside the US. It’s just that using the established driver license infrastructure and set of agreements — think AAMVA — saves a whole lot of money by avoiding duplication. It makes fiscal sense.
    And then there’s the old argument that a citizen does not have to have an ID card, but the reality is that if one wants to drive, take a plane (or, soon, train) trip, one has to get one. So in the strict and legal sense it’s not mandatory, but in a practical sense it is.
    All that said, folks who have security clearances are bemused if not amused at all this, especially if that clearance is through an agency that requires a “full” polygraph exam.
    But I return to one point in response to Lee’s last post: Real ID requires no more information than the current driver license regiment does, at least in SC, except for biometric info, and even that feature, in the form of fingerprint minutiae, was procured in case the legislature so mandated. In SC, the SLED-issued CWP actually uses driver license information on the credential, although I don’t think that DMV has direct access to the SLED CWP data.

  11. Gordon Hirsch

    Mike … I actually think Lee’s observation is closer to my own, in that nobody has really defined how Real ID will be used in the future. Lacking a passport or other federal ID, the old standard was that Social Security card plus driver’s license and/or birth certificate constituted proof of citizenry. Social Security went on to become an ID commonly required by the health care system and colleges or universities, where it often became your account number. … Now we have Real ID becoming a requisite for admission to federal buildings, or travel.
    What’s to prevent the health care industry from picking up Real ID as a standard, or educational institutions, or banks, or credit card companies, or libraries … I think you get the idea. There seems to be a rush to create a standard without up front disclosure of how it can or will be used by the real world.
    I’d feel far more comfortable if those questions were settled on the front-end, rather than by challenges from civil libertarians after the face. And admittedly am not current with the national debate on this issue, which seems to have focused on state’s rights because it the program is unfunded, but without a lot of media or public attention to other future potentialities.

  12. Lee Muller

    Federal law explicitly prohibits the maintaining of records of gun owners and their firearms, which amounts to de facto gun registration. You may recall the outrage of Democrats and other leftists when new Attorney General John Ashbrook discovered that his predecessor, Janet Reno, had set up an illegal computerized gun registration database by cross-linking information from many sources, including OCR scans of BATF 4473 forms for sales, which had been obtained from gun dealers who went out of business and turned over the forms to the ATF. Ashbrook ordered the records destroyed, as he was required to do by federal law.
    A current lawsuit is making its way through the courts which, which could collide with Real ID. SSN/gun rights lawsuit (Stollenwerk v. Miller et al.) now challenges the Pennsylvania UFA’s requirement that gun owners disclose their social security numbers. This is not a federal requirement for the NCIS Instant Background check which is performed on every retail firearms purchase at retail store or gun show, except on those persons with a current CCW permit.

  13. Mike Cakora

    I think that any enterprise that needs to assure identities will use the Real ID as a first step. Employers will use it for I-9 verification, governmental agencies will use it to verify identity for services, etc. In that sense it can be a gateway document. However, I can think of several types of enterprises that won’t require it unless forced to.
    Banks are certainly interested in knowing precisely the identities of their customers for all services, but for some services they’ll accept folks who don’t have Real IDs because they don’t qualify for them because of their, er, irregular immigration status.
    Health providers too will probably accept whatever card is issued on their behalf by the group manager / employer who does the initial identity screening.
    My only objection is the cost that the states have to bear and the inconvenience to law-abiding natural-born citizens. Right now, with the driver license and SSAN, there are sufficient linkages to find out what you want about almost everyone. And The State aims to keep it that way.

  14. Lee Muller

    Real ID is, like many proposed laws, naive about the environment which it intends to control.
    A SSN is not required for a driver’s license, because many people with driver’s licenses are not required to have a SSN for religious reasons. Missouri, for example, has about 60,000 Mennonites and Amish which DLs but without SSNs.

  15. Gordon Hirsch

    I don’t think there’s anything naive about the people who have conceived Real ID, or who have failed to define limitations on its future uses. They want the door left wide open to whatever they choose to do, however they choose to do it.

  16. Lee Muller

    There’s truth to that, Gordon. As an engineer, I would have its intended functionality, side effects and failure modes all mapped out before writing the bill.
    Lawyers want to leave it vague, open-ended, and even some known bugs as an excuse to revisit and tighten any screws on the subjects which they forgot in the original, or couldn’t turn down all at once.
    But, having watched bill writers at work, I don’t give them much credit for throroughness or scope of ideas. Lack of subject matter knowledge doesn’t faze them.

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