Saturday, February 6, 2010

Life in Utah with Real ID

BTC - Thank your lucky stars this isn't your life. They could call a halt to it all if they'd simply call a special session and invoke their 10th Amendment. I'm pretty sure DHS would understand.

c/o AP>> Austin Statesman

SALT LAKE CITY - So packed is the parking lot at Utah's busiest driver's license office that on certain days people circle it endlessly in their cars, waiting to pounce on an elusive open spot. Some give up, and park illegally.

Lines of frustrated customers often stretch outside the busy office into the bitter cold. Others stream out, frequently muttering obscenities after waiting for hours — sometimes only to be told to come back another day.

A year ago, the average wait at this office was 19 minutes — lately, it's been three or four hours at times.

"I think if we get through today it'll be ... God's will," said Jennifer Selvidge, who was trying to get her son's learner's permit on a recent afternoon. "It's like being on a bad flight across country with three layovers and a bad movie."

The wait-times have ballooned in part because of efforts by Utah to comply as of Jan. 1 with the federal Real ID Act by issuing driver's licenses designed to prevent forgery — requiring verification of birth certificates, Social Security numbers and immigration status.

That new paperwork has forced many to come into the office rather than renew online or through the mail, as they once did. On top of that, Utah's driver's license offices have been closed on Fridays for the past year to save money and the state shuttered six traveling offices in rural areas because they didn't comply with security requirements under the new law.

The long lines have left Republican Gov. Gary Herbert scrambling for ways to reduce waits, while one state lawmaker is pushing for the state to stop adhering to the Real ID Act, potentially joining about a dozen others who have refused to comply since the act was passed in 2005.
"People are saying 'Why are we having to do this?' They're upset at the state, they're upset at the governor. But really this is something that truly has been dictated upon us by the federal government," said Rep. Stephen Sandstrom, R-Orem. "To have this is really quite onerous."
Utah is one of nine states where driver's licenses can't be renewed online or through the mail, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. It isn't clear how many of those states require in-person renewals in an effort to comply with Real ID.

Lawmakers in other states have noted that fully complying with the act likely would require more workers or longer wait times. In Nevada, there were warnings in 2007 that 196 additional DMV employees would be needed and that some offices would have to remain open longer to meet the new requirments. Lawmakers opted out of the plan, in hopes Congress might repeal the act. :::MORE HERE:::

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