Real ID gets left by wayside after Gibbons' order expires

CARSON CITY -- High security driver's licenses won't be issued by the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles for now or anytime in the near future.

A proposed DMV regulation to give citizens the option of securing the Real ID-compliant driver's licenses was not placed on the agenda of Friday's Legislative Commission, a spokesman said Wednesday.

That leaves the agency with no authority to issue the licenses, which it calls Advance Secure Issuance licenses. Citizens needed to show extra identification before being issued the new licenses.

A temporary regulation issued by Gov. Jim Gibbons that allowed the new licenses expired on April 30.

In the first four months of the year, 46,000 Nevadans had secured the Real ID licenses, including 21,000 who were not required to under the regulation.

"Everything we do is in the Nevada Revised Statutes or in regulation," said Tom Jacobs, a DMV spokesman. "Both are approved by the Legislature. We can't move forward without legislative approval."

Gibbons had issued the 120-day regulation despite the fact the 2009 Legislature did not pass a bill to allow the DMV to issue Real ID licenses and a legislative committee in November declined to act on regulations to let the agency move forward with the licenses.

The DMV spent $2 million, including $750,000 in state money, to set up systems and prepare staff for the licenses.

Gibbons spokesman Daniel Burns said the governor is extremely disappointed that legislators have not approved an enabling regulation.

"We are wasting a lot of money, and this would have made Nevada public safety better," Burns said. "All you had to do is prove who you are and that you are a Nevada resident. The licenses would be almost impossible to counterfeit."

But Burns said too many people, including legislators, believe the myth that the licenses contain a computer chip that allows the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to follow you around and look at your bank account.

At hearings, motorists from both ends of the political spectrum expressed their opposition. Groups as diverse as the Independent American Party and the American Civil Liberties Union spoke out against Real ID licenses.

The Real ID Act of 2005 was a move by Congress after the 9/11 attacks to prevent terrorists from securing legitimate identification.

The law requires state DMVs to check the identity of driver's license applicants. People, even those who have been driving for years, must show birth certificates, Social Security cards, marriage licenses, utility bills, passports and other identification to prove their identities. Illegal immigrants would not be able to secure licenses.

But the Real ID Act never has been enforced, including a provision to prevent people from states that did not comply from boarding airplanes. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has postponed implementation repeatedly. The next deadline is May 2011.

Under the federal law, people born after December 1964 do not need the new license before 2014. Older people are not required to secure them before 2017.

But under Gibbons' temporary regulation, new drivers, people moving to Nevada and those changing names and addresses had to get them.

Jacobs said because the federal law remains in effect, the DMV will seek legislative approval to implement the new licensing system at least by May 1, 2011.

"We are going to talk to the legislative leadership," he said.

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at or 775-687-3901.