Illinois Eyes More Secure Driver's License
Illinois is working on a plan to bring state driver's licenses up to federal security standards.
Currently, Illinois licenses and identification cards do not meet minimum standards mandated by the Real ID Act, which passed in 2005 in the wake of 9/11. If the Department of Homeland Security does not grant Illinois an extension, residents would need additional identification like a passport or face additional security checks to get on planes, reported the Chicago Tribune.
"The act aims to thwart efforts by terrorists, con artists and immigrants in the country illegally to obtain government-issued identification. Arguments about costs, privacy and whether the additional information would actually reduce threats have delayed implementation of the law for more than a decade," the Tribune said.
A major feature of Real ID is the verification of birth certificates, which Illinois currently does not require, the Tribune said. The information is electronically scanned and stored in a federal database, and data can be shared easily among states and the federal government.
"It's a large database that allows us to verify birth certificates and death certificates, things of that nature," said Henry Haupt, spokesman for Secretary of State Jesse White. "It's quite costly. We estimate, in order to utilize it and have all the birth certificates verified for Illinois drivers, it would cost about $3.75 million each year."
White's office estimated it would cost $100 to $150 million just for staffing, equipment and data storage. A Real ID driver's licenses could cost an estimated $75 in Illinois. A license currently costs $30 for ages 21-68, according to the Tribune.
That cost would largely be shouldered by Illinois drivers and taxpayers. The Homeland Security estimates it could cost $4 billion nationwide to implement the act.
"Illinois has received two extensions to meet federal requirements, the second of which expires in October," the Tribune said. If it does not implement the act or receive another extension, then residents will need a second ID, like a passport, or be subjected to a lengthy secondary screening at checkpoints to board airplanes starting in 2016. Haupt, who is optimistic that Illinois will get another extension, said the state will begin issuing driver's licenses with additional security measures in 2016, although these will still not be enough to meet Real ID criteria."