CHARLESTON - Although the Real ID measures have been in effect for some time, they are still causing problems for people trying to get their driver's license renewed.
However, state and national officials say it is all part of keeping the country safe.
Problems ranging from seniors trying to get a copy of their birth certificates to others having to produce documentation detailing marriage, divorce and re-marriage have played havoc with people trying to get a driver's license issued. The West Virginia DMV has put out information detailing what people need to be better prepared when they come in.
The Real ID Act created a new set of federal standards for state identification cards and driver's license authentication, issuance and security protocols. The act mandates that each state issue driver's licenses or state ID cards only to residents who can prove either U.S. citizenship or legal alien status by showing proper identification.
The act was passed in 2005 in response to a number of the terrorists involved in the 9/11 hijackings were carrying identification from a number of states which played a part in their being able to carry out their plans.
Current requirements require proof of a social security number; proof of identity; proof of state residency; proof of a name change through marriage/divorce; and documented changes to birth date, gender and social security number.
Some of the documents that can be used include an original social security card; a wage and tax statement; a U.S. Birth Certificate (or certified copy); a valid unexpired U.S. Passport; copies of certain bills and certain documentation for state services with your address on them; a certified marriage certificate; divorce decree(s) with name change and other documentation the DMV has listed.
State officials have looked into the problems people have been having, but being a federal mandate means most adjustments have to be done on the federal level.
States, like West Virginia, can choose not to participate in the Real ID program, but citizens in those states would not have the choice of using their state driver's license or ID card for federal identification purposes, like boarding airplanes, entry into federal buildings and more, said Steven O. Dale, deputy commissioner for the West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles. Federal legislation has been introduced which would withhold federal highway funds for non-compliance, he said.
"West Virginia and Ohio are in compliance so our licenses will be honored," Dale said. "DMV continued progress toward implementation, and our progress was greatly eased by the fact that West Virginia had all of the main components of Real ID already in law."
Dale said Congress has tried to address issues that have come up, but many federal lawmakers fear it would weaken the law and its purpose.
The state was able to find some "wiggle room" in the federal rule to assist renewal applicants that are age 50 and over, he said. The state has a waiver program for drivers age 50 and over, pertaining to verification of name changes, but this only applies to name change documents, not to the core documents.
"However, this is only for renewal applicants who are renewing a driver's license without changing the name, who have been licensed in West Virginia for at least one renewal cycle," he said.
Jim Forbes, spokesman for U.S. Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., said federal lawmakers have been pushing for the prompt adoption of Real ID compliant licenses in light of new security concerns to keep potential terrorists from exploiting vulnerabilities.
"Although Rep. McKinley does understand this law may be burdensome upon some, it is for the safety of the American public that law enforcement is beginning to implement the minimum standards of this law," Forbes said. "Rep. McKinley will always stand behind laws that protect the safety of citizens across the country and he believes implementing this law ensures our nation is safe from those who wish to do us harm."
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said there is nothing more important than the security of the nation and protecting its citizens from harm.
"Since 9/11, we live in a different world than a generation ago - and that means that we have to be ever-vigilant," he said. "With that being said, this transformation can be painful and bothersome, and it is also important to ensure states do not face unfunded federal mandates that are unnecessarily burdensome.
"Looking ahead, I have confidence that we can work together to repair some of the problems that have come up and reduce the costs to states in a common sense and innovative way."