With the passage of the REAL ID Act of 2005, the federal government will now require, by May of 2008, that states issue their driver’s licenses in compliance with the Act.  A recent joint study by the National Governors Association, National Conference of State Legislatures and the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators has determined that the Act will require the states to reissue driver’s licenses to all current holders within five years, thereby costing the states more than $11 billion during that period.  The study further projects that the requirements of the Act will more than double the time required to obtain a state driver’s license. 

This Act constitutes a federal mandate on states and was adopted without public hearings or input from state officials.  Among the Act’s costly burdens on states are:

  • Mandating that state driver’s licenses meet federal standards for appearance and security features, including full legal name, digital photograph, tamper-proof design and the presence of a “machine-readable” component;
  • Requiring a state’s drivers to present “identity” documents and saddling the states with the responsibility of scanning and saving copies of these documents, as well as certifying their validity;
  • Mandating states that don’t comply to mark their driver’s licenses as noncompliant, thereby rendering the licenses useless in boarding an airplane or entering a federal building; and
  • Requiring the states to compile their driver’s license information in a database and to provide electronic access to all other states to the information contained in the motor-vehicle database.


The Southern Legislative Conference (SLC) of The Council of State Governments urges Congress to defer implementation of the Real ID Act of 2005 until such time when timely rules are promulgated, full funding of additional, new compliance costs is provided to the states by the federal government and appropriate input by the states is sought.  The SLC also urges public hearings in each state capital with appropriate federal representatives present prior to any future action on the Real ID Act.

Further, the SLC requests that copies of this policy position be transmitted to all appropriate federal agencies and the Southern Congressional delegation.

Adopted by the Southern Legislative Conference, November 2006, Savannah, Georgia.