Rutledge says license verification program will cost state

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(Host) According to Motor Vehicle Commissioner Bonnie Rutledge, it will cost the state of Vermont more than $2 million to comply with the new federal driver’s license verification program.

Under the plan, which is being proposed by the Bush Administration, all drivers will be required to bring their birth certificate to their local DMV office in order to get their license renewed.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) Despite strong opposition from many governors, the federal Agency of Homeland Security isn’t backing down from a controversial plan to require states to verify the citizenship of all individuals seeking a driver’s license.

Vermont’s commissioner of Motor Vehicles, Bonnie Rutledge, is at the eye of this storm because she also serves as the head of the national association of DMV directors and is the group’s point person on this issue.

Under the so called “Real ID” plan, all individuals will have to present their birth certificates at their local DMV office to obtain a new license or to renew an old one.

The goal of the program is to establish a nationwide system where common security procedures are in place in every state to make it harder for terrorists to illegally obtain a driver’s license.

Rutledge says it will cost more than $2 million for her office to comply with this plan and these cost estimates don’t include any expenses that are associated with new rules that are being drafted by the federal government.

Rutledge says Homeland Security is looking at a plan to exempt people over 70 from the law.

(Rutledge) “What we’ve heard is that they’re looking at something to grandfather a portion of the population. If that doesn’t come about, then everyone who holds a Vermont driver’s license will have to come in and prove with their birth certificate and other documentation.what their date of birth was, their place of birth and that they are U.S. citizens.”

(Kinzel) Rutledge says the Real ID plan is supposed to allow state officials to electronically verify documents but there’s a problem.

(Rutledge) “You can’t electronically verify something that’s not in place yet. And that’s one of the stumbling blocks with full implementation of the Real ID Act is that those electronic verification processes are not in place yet.”

(Kinzel) Rutledge says DMV officials will have to personally inspect all documents until the electronic system is in place. She says this isn’t an easy task because there are roughly 6000 different types of birth certificates in use.

Homeland Security is scheduled to release its draft rules for the program this Spring . The Agency hopes to implement the plan at the beginning of 2008.

For Vermont Public Radio I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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