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What’s up with Real ID?
Little will change with new license guidelines

03/10/16
By Ryan Lessard news@hippopress.com



 New Hampshire appears poised to pass a bill that will allow residents to get Real ID-compliant driver’s licenses.

 
What’s Real ID?
Real ID is a federal law meant to beef up security at airports and federal buildings. 
“As of January 2018, you won’t be able to board an airplane unless you have a Real ID or passport — or [else] you’re going to have to go through an extensive amount of extra screening and everything else,” said Republican State Rep. Sherman Packard.
Packard is the prime sponsor of HB 1616, which will make it possible for residents to get a Real ID-compliant driver’s license. The bill heads to the Senate Transportation Committee next, having passed the House by a wide margin — a good sign, because if it doesn’t pass, residents won’t be able to procure Real ID-licenses and will either be forced to buy passports for air travel or will have to undergo more intense security screenings at airports. Packard estimates that more than 700,000 state residents who don’t currently have a passport will have to pay $110 each to get one. 
If the bill is signed into law before a June 1 deadline, then a waiver exempting New Hampshire from the requirements will be extended five years, giving residents a chance to get the new cards. So, between now and 2021, Granite Staters won’t need to worry about boarding domestic flights.
 
What will change
In order to be Real ID-compliant, your Social Security number and photo must remain in a state database — and they probably already are. Presently, when you get or renew a license, there is a checkbox to request that your Social Security number and/or portrait be removed from the Department of Motor Vehicles database after they hand you the new card. Not very many people check that box anyway, Packard said. 
But if the Real ID bill becomes law, the opt-out system for that database will become an opt-in system. In other words, now you will have to check the box in order to opt in to keep your Social Security number and photo in the DMV database. If you check that box, your license will be Real ID-compliant. If you don’t opt in, you will not get a Real ID-compliant license.
“The noncompliant licenses will state right on them that they are not in compliance,” Packard said.
 
What took NH so long
The federal Real ID law is about a decade old now and comes from recommendations made in the 9/11 Commission Report, but until now the feds have been lenient about states’ complying with the new standards.  
If passed, New Hampshire’s law will give people a choice to opt in rather than the current system of opting out — a deliberate change that stems from privacy concerns with the database. 
Packard thinks those privacy concerns are overblown, though he too is not a fan of the federal law. 
“I personally fought against Real ID for years. I still think it was an overreach of the federal government,” Packard said.
New Hampshire legislators have put off changing this law because of that generally shared sentiment, but the federal government’s June 1 deadline forced the legislature to act this year so residents aren’t unduly burdened.
A similar bill in the Senate, sponsored by Democratic Sen. Donna Soucy of Manchester, is also in the Transportation Committee. 





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