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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    2 out of 3 ain’t bad

    3-in-1 drivers license a good idea, but federal regulations a fatal flaw

    College students tend to be particularly sensitive to the allure of a killer deal. Careful coupon-clipping, a dash of strategy and an eye for bargains are, for many, one of the most effective forms of financial aid. To many students, this week’s proposal by Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano to create a new “” 3-in-1″” driver’s license may sound better than a closeout sale on a case of Top Ramen. But a serious look at the policy reveals that the new license may not come as advertised.

    The governor’s innovative ID would be more than a mere driving permit. Besides giving permission to hit the road, it would comply with the rules of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, a regulation put in place by the Department of Homeland Security last year requiring U.S. citizens to present a valid passport to travel to Canada and Mexico. The new license would be an acceptable alternative, meaning that Arizona residents will no longer need to apply for a passport for that quick Spring Break jaunt south of the border. The license would require proof of citizenship, lining it up with the requirements of a 2005 federal law known as the Real ID Act. This law establishes national standards for state driver’s licenses, allowing them to be used as federal identification documents.

    Unfortunately, Real ID is a real legislative disaster. Rejected once by Congress, the act was passed only after it was tacked onto the end of an unstoppable bill funding troops in Afghanistan and tsunami relief. The law is meant to prevent terrorists and illegal immigrants from acquiring state driver’s licenses, accepted almost universally as a form of identification. But the benefit of the illusory security Real ID would provide is far outweighed by the cost of compliance, the loss of privacy and the new risks the policy brings along.

    Real ID requires state driver’s licenses to contain “”machine-readable”” data, to be stored in a shared database of identification information between states. Creating big databases of personal information and combining many forms of ID into one super-card breeds new opportunities for identity theft. Complying with new regulations means licenses will cost more, and although state officials still have no idea how much the new cards will cost, they plan on passing the cost on to individual drivers by funding the fancy new credentials with a fee increase. Worst of all, although Napolitano claims the license will “”align to satisfy future requirements of Real ID,”” those requirements have yet to be drafted by the Department of Homeland Security, and could include even more insecure or invasive measures.

    A driver’s license should be just that – a permit to operate a motor vehicle. There may be a place for a federal ID card, but the creation of such a card should be a public process, not a policy quietly slipped into practice by individual states. Of course, for a state like Arizona, movement across the border is an important part of many residents’ lives, and that movement is often in cars and trucks on the ground. Making it easier for U.S. citizens to drive across the border is a great idea – and one that directly pertains to motor vehicles. Napolitano deserves kudos for this part of the policy, but the Real ID complications are a fatal flaw. Fortunately, the state Legislature sees things the same way – it passed a law earlier this year prohibiting the Arizona Department of Transportation from adopting the voluntary regulations.

    Still, before Arizonans buy into the 3-for-1 deal on new driver’s licenses, they may want to do some comparison shopping.

    OPINIONS BOARD: Editorials are determined by the Wildcat opinions board and written by one of its members. They are Justyn Dillingham, Allison Hornick, Sarah Keeler, Connor Mendenhall and Allison Dumka.

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