The Costs and Benefits of Real ID

The Department of Homeland Security establishes 18 separate benchmarks that need to be met in order to be compliant with the Real ID act.  To date, Maryland has met less than half of those benchmarks.    The state is now grappling with the issue of meeting the remaining benchmarks — including verification of legal immigration status — despite the expense of doing so.

And the expenses are significant.  First, the budgetary costs.  Are these in the budget? How much are they estimated to run?  DHS estimates the costs to average $78 per state — so you can assume it will cost Maryland at least $150 million.

There are also security costs.  Implementation of Real ID will surely lead to a loss of security.  Forming a national database that lists all the private information of license-holders, is like putting all your money in one box.  Sophisticated (and maybe not-so-sophisticated) hackers will have a ready-made avenue for identity theft.  In that respect, Real ID represents a tremendous security threat.  Identity theft is already a widespread problem, and Real ID would make it worse.

Then there are costs to physical safety:  Already, 30-50% of non-native applicants for Maryland drivers’ licenses are being rejected by the MVA, because of insufficient documentation of residence.  The General Assembly is currently considering, independent of Real ID, six separate bills to require proof of federal immigration status for drivers.   What will happen if Real ID is put into effect, and even more drivers are rejected?

It’s not likely that they will just quit their jobs and plop down on the couch at home.  Rather, it’s likely that they will just drive anyway.  This means that they become kind of a black market on the highway.  They will avoid police, maybe decline insurance, and become kind of an underground, below-the-radar fleet.  Unlicensed drivers mean it’s harder for police to track them down in the event of an accident, and it is harder to hold them accountable.  The overall effect is reduced highway safety.

And what are the benefits of implementing Real ID?  Maybe you could say that all the costs are worthwhile, if it reduces the threat of terrorism.  Right.   Somehow, I just can’t imagine Mohammed Atta calling up Osama bin Laden to report, “Uh, sorry chief, we have to scrap the whole operation because I couldn’t get driver’s license from the MVA.”

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7 Comments on “The Costs and Benefits of Real ID”

  1. MoreData Says:

    Unlicensed drivers also means that they can do anything, engage in any sort of unlawful driving and make it back to the street with little or no fine or jail time.

    I’m not a proponent of giving driving licensure to illegally immigrated people. We need to do something, though. The way we handle this is to forget that population when it becomes difficult.

    • JoyceD Says:

      I knew someone once who drove without a license or insurance for 5 yrs. – she was a citizen, but against government institutions. She drove carefully so she wouldn’t get caught, though.

      People will break the law. Making it stricter is not always better.

      When she was caught, she was sufficiently fined and restricted from driving and threatened with jail time. The law was significant to serve its purpose. I don’t want to be stopped to have my ID checked periodically – it would be like living in a police state and you better believe a terrorist would find their way around it if they really wanted to.

      Our money would be better spent by continuing to support the work of the FBI & CIA & scrap Homeland Security.

  2. The remark would be more to the effect of “sorry chief, I wasn’t able to get a wire transfer, open a bank account or get a credit card, nor rent a car, nor board an airplane”.

    In Maryland, anyone who declines their insurance will have their tags recalled. Anyone driving with dead tags will be in huge trouble and will pay immense fines.

    Maryland already is a magnet for out-of-state people getting bogus licenses with addresses of post-office boxes, etc. And it’s the only state east of the Rockies that does not require proof of legal residence.

    With REAL ID, identity theft becomes almost impossible. Why? Because the information is backed up online — include the picture — and it’s backed up read-only. Anyone trying to use that information will have to explain why they don’t look like that person whose identity or resources they attempt to steal.

    The only people who fear REAL ID are illegal aliens and their supporters, or people on the dodge, such as folks trying to weasel out of child-support payments.

    • Zinzindor Says:

      There are a lot of people who fear REAL ID:

      – Federal judges, including Supreme Court justices, would be exempt from having their address information included in the REAL ID database, according to P.L. 110-177, The Court Security Improvement Act of 2007
      I’m assuming that they are not “illegal aliens, or people on the dodge, or folks trying to weasel out of child support payments.” They are just afraid that the Big Brother database will be a security nightmare, and an avenue for, as you put it, “people on the dodge.”

      It’s expensive, it’s intrusive, and it’s dangerous to security. That’s why the states of Nevada, Colorado, Utah, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Missouri, Arkansas, Illinois, and Tennessee have passed resolutions denouncing REAL ID. And twelve states have passed laws prohibiting implementation of the law.

  3. disillusioned Says:

    What about those who lose or gain weight easily? At age 23 I was almost denied alcohol purchase because I had lost a ton of weight and I was a porker when my photo was taken.

  4. […] Montgomery doubts that the benefits of Real ID will outweigh the […]

  5. Linda Says:

    Thanks to the 2005 Federal Real ID act, I no longer have a mother! She was born Elizabeth Jean Casper. At some time during her adult life, she started using the name Betty instead of Elizabeth. She files her taxes under Betty. Her cars are registered under Betty. Her social security number says Betty and her Social Security is issued under Betty. Her apartment is owned by Betty. But, unless she gets a court-ordered document stating that her name was changed from Elizabeth to Betty, I can no longer establish that she is my mother….so says the Maryland Department of Motor Vehicles. If any of you out there have found out you are orphans as a result of the Real ID act, please help me find out how I can get my mother back.

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