REAL ID Available In LA After Years Of Dispute

BATON ROUGE (AP) — Louisiana residents can now get driver's licenses and identification cards that meet the standards of the federal REAL ID security law, ending years of state refusal to follow the requirements.

         The Office of Motor Vehicles started issuing REAL ID-compliant licenses and ID cards Monday, after Gov. John Bel Edwards and lawmakers earlier this year agreed to scrap a 2008 state law prohibiting conformity with the federal security standards.

         Louisianians can choose whether they want a driver's license or an ID card that complies with the federal law or one that does not.

         Edwards encouraged people "to make use of this new form of ID."

         "I am proud this option will now be available for those citizens who want to have one," the Democratic governor said in a statement. "The goal of the REAL ID is to help safeguard against potential danger. This will help protect our family, friends and communities and reinforce our sense of public safety, which we all value."

         Congress passed the REAL ID Act in 2005, to create national identification standards after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Fewer than half the states meet the current requirements, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

         Louisiana lawmakers have haggled for years over whether to meet the standards, with backers of REAL ID compliance worried that state residents will run into problems when identification meeting the federal requirements will be required to board domestic flights in 2020.

         Conservative groups have raised privacy worries about data collection and sharing. Former Gov. Bobby Jindal vetoed a bill allowing REAL ID compliance in 2014.

         To get a REAL ID license or identification card, people will need to present documents to verify their identity, such as a birth certificate, an unexpired passport, a social security card or other options. Proof of Louisiana residency through at least two documents verifying a home address, such as a phone bill or utility bill, also will be required.

         To comply with the federal law, the Office of Motor Vehicles will scan the documents into a database and store them. When drivers opt out of a REAL ID-compliant license or identification card, the agency will be barred from copying or scanning into a database any of those documents.

         A REAL ID driver's license or identification card will feature a gold circle with a star cutout, according to the Office of Motor Vehicles, while a non-compliant license or card will bear the words "not for federal identification."

         – by AP Reporter Melinda Deslatte


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