More identification is now required in order to apply for a Texas driver license or identification card, and this new change has brought the state closer to complying with the controversial Real I.D. Act.
Under the new law, applicants must prove they are Texas residents and that they have lived at their residence for at least 30 days. Among the forms of identification and proof of residency are current deeds and mortgages, concealed handgun licenses, medical cards, military documents and school transcripts.
Other states across the country have implemented this law, as well, and many feel it walks the line of invading privacy. They do not want to provide more information than they have to, which is also an issue with the Real I.D. Act. This act, which has already taken effect in some states, turns driver licenses into national identification cards complete with chips that automatically allow computers to pull up biographic and biometric data.
"We use our drivers licenses to get on airplanes, for example, to make sure that you are the person who's presenting that driver license," WTAMU Teel Bivins Professor of Political Science Dr. John David Rausch said. "But it's really an attempt to try to reduce terrorist threats by having some national standards for every state to have the same ID."
According to Rausch, all of the 9/11 hijackers had obtained driver licenses that gave them different names and address. In turn, they were harder to track. Some of the thought behind the Real I.D. Act is if all Americans have the same identification card, it will be harder for terrorists and other criminals to hide in the shadows.
"It's just a question of how much are state residents wanting to give up their state powers for a national power," Rausch pointed out, "and that's the whole issue behind the Real I.D. Act."
Many states have been resistant to a national I.D. card and the fact that the federal government could keep track of them.
Though the Real I.D. Act has not yet been implemented in the Lone Star State, experts say this new law puts Texas one step closer to it.
"If it's going to slow down the lines at the driver license office, then it's definitely much more of a negative," Rausch added. "The positive would be there's a standardized process, a standard of what the card will look like, information the card will have no matter what state you're from."
For more information on the new law and how to obtain a Texas driver license or identification card, visit the Texas Department of Public Safety.