The Real ID Act: How Not To Use A Driver License

By NMA President, James Baxter

The driver license should serve one and only one purpose; that is to certify that the owner of that license has proven that he or she is capable of operating a motor vehicle, on a public roadway, and in a safe and prudent manner.

The driver license should not be used as a general identification instrument. It should not be suspended or revoked unless, through due process, it is proven that the license owner is not driving in a safe and prudent manner.

Real ID is a bad idea and using the driver license for Real ID makes it a worse idea.

The manner in which the driver license is carried and used makes it highly susceptible to theft and physical loss. Under the “one national ID number” concept, the compromise of that number would expose the victim to financial ruin, malicious acts, and the exposure of highly personal information.

Having a single national ID card/number is an invitation to fraud, theft, and the loss of personal security and individual privacy. Real ID brings us within a step of becoming a “show us your papers” society. The highest courts have already ruled that we no longer have a right to anonymity. We can no longer refuse to identify ourselves if that information is demanded by a police officer, regardless of his justification.

With Real ID we’ll be forced to produce a document, on demand, that proves we are who we say we are. It is already proposed that we can’t fly in a commercial airliner, enter a federal building, or qualify for federal programs without providing a national ID. It doesn’t take a great leap in imagination to envision a society where individuals cannot travel, work, shop, recreate or socialize unless they “show their papers.”

A driver license based Real ID will only exacerbate corporate and government abuse of private citizens.

Such a system will not deter terrorists and will not make our society safer, but will make our society less free and more authoritarian. This is a bad idea whose time should never come.

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