The Real ID Act of 2005 requires states to standardize driver’s licenses across the nation into a single national identity card and database. While it is ostensibly aimed at improving driver’s license security, its actual effect is to turn those same licenses into national ID cards by stipulating that state driver’s licenses and state ID cards will not be accepted for “federal purposes”—including boarding an aircraft or entering a federal facility—unless they meet all of the law’s numerous conditions.
If fully implemented, the law would facilitate the tracking of data on individuals and bring government into the very center of every citizen’s life. By definitively turning driver’s licenses into a form of national identity documents, Real ID would have a tremendously destructive impact on privacy. It would also impose significant administrative burdens and expenses on state governments, and it would mean higher fees, longer lines, repeat visits to the DMV, and bureaucratic nightmares for individuals.
Because of these problems, many states oppose the use of Real ID, and it has not gone into full effect. The ACLU has joined with these states to support the repeal of the law.