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Martinsville Bulletin, Inc.
P. O. Box 3711
204 Broad Street
Martinsville, Virginia 24115
Toll Free: 800-234-6575

Attack changed licensing
Drivers to face more security

Monday, September 11, 2006

Getting a Virginia driver's license is more difficult today than it was five years ago, and officials say it's likely to be harder still five years down the road.

Bill Foy, public relations manager for the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, said security standards for driver's licenses have become more stringent since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. And, as he put it, "bigger changes are on the horizon."�

The "Real ID Act of 2005," a federal law, is driving tighter security rules at DMVs nationwide, he said.

"(The act) creates national standards for state-issued driver's licenses," Foy said, essentially creating a federal ID card by the time it is implemented in 2008.

"It's going to mean significant delays to the public in the licensing process" if it is implemented in its present form, Foy said, and the state also is concerned about cost and privacy issues associated with the switch.

Instead of being able to renew licenses online, he said, Virginians will have to go to DMV centers and bring documentation.

Foy said a state task force met on the issue in the fall and agreed that there should be a national dialogue about the possible problems with the act before it is implemented.

Foy also said that soon, state driver's licenses will be issued from a central location, not local DMV offices, to eliminate the potential for fraud in the process of creating licenses.

"There is truth to the fact that there's some bad apples in the bunch," he said. Foy said that less than half a dozen DMV employees have been convicted of fraud in the creation of fraudulent licenses.

At some point in the not too distant future, he said, people still will take their tests to get licenses at a DMV office, but they will walk out with a receipt, not the license itself. The license will be created at a "secure central location" and sent to the recipient, Foy said.

"The department's ability to monitor and control fraud is much easier at that one central location," he said.

This change is targeted to start after 2007, he said.

Those changes represent a major shift for DMVs in the post-Sept. 11 world, Foy said.

"Before Sept. 11, at DMV we were all about customer service," and getting the customer out as quickly and conveniently as possible, Foy said.

Now, however, though the DMV still cares about customer service, it also must make security a high priority.

"Clearly security is first and foremost," Foy said.

He said the main changes in Virginia DMV standards that have been implemented during the past few years are based on a 2003 law that significantly toughens the requirements to prove "legal presence."�

"It tightens up all the requirements that an individual prove they are legally authorized to be in the United States," he said.

Prior to Sept. 11, 2001, Foy said, it was possible to have someone else sign a "voucher" attesting that a person was a legal U.S. resident or legally authorized to live and work here. Now, he said, one must provide two forms of documentation showing citizenship, such as a passport and birth certificate.

If a person is not a citizen but is living here legally, there are several other documents that can be provided, such as a green card, he said.


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