The Coastal Packet: Mainers already being hit by new federal ID law

Tuesday, February 28

Mainers already being hit by new federal ID law

Sun Journal - Mainers will be grounded next year if legislators don't update driver's licenses to comply with federal requirements. Share E-mail this story Print this story Save this story

State and federal representatives are scrambling to fix the situation, which stemmed from fears over a 12-year-old federal act that critics say would create a national database of personal information.

But states are starting to comply with the law because starting this year, federal agencies aren't accepting driver's licenses that don't meet security standards. If your state isn't compliant, your driver's license won't get you on board a commercial aircraft starting next year.

Congress passed the Real ID Act in 2005. Under the act, in time, federal agencies wouldn't accept state licenses that didn't meet heightened security standards and requirements like the state agreeing to share its motor vehicle databases with other states.

Maine became the first state to reject the act in 2007 by refusing to implement the law. Critics called it an unfunded mandate and federal overreach, with concerns over the act's requirements for facial recognition technology on license photos and retention of copies of birth certificates.

Maine is now one of five states — and the only state in New England — that is not compliant with the law. Currently, 21 states and five U.S. territories have received extra time to comply from the Department of Homeland Security.

A Maine-issued driver's license can no longer get you into military bases, nuclear power plants and other federal facilities — though Maine licenses are accepted at federal courthouses. Driver's licenses can still be used to receive federal benefits, vote or enter federal facilities that don't require an ID.

Starting next year, the IDs won't allow you to board commercial planes. Airports would only accept identification like U.S. passports, which cost $135 for first-time applicants.

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