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Would Real ID Act prove really costly?

Group says reducing driver's license fraud would cost billions

Implementing the new Real ID Act could cost billions, according to the taxpayer watchdog group Citizens Against Government Waste.

The recently passed federal law designed to reduce fraudulent drivers' licenses has the potential to raise the cost of a driver's license, currently $20 or $25 in Utah, to at least $90, the group said in a report.

The figure comes from the cost if the Department of Homeland Security opts to require radio frequency identification chips, which uses radio waves to automatically identify people or objects. The recent CAGW report found the total cost of implemented RFID would total $17.4 billion.

However, Nanette Rolfe, director of the driver license division of the Department of Public Safety, said the state won't know how much it will cost to implement Real ID until it gets federal direction. Utah is not currently looking at RFID, she said.

There are plans to introduce a new driver's license "with quite a few new security features" next July.

The state has until 2008 to fully comply with the Real ID Act and for now, Rolfe said her division is working on implementing parts of the plan that it already has direction on — such as legislation to reduce the validity of state identification cards from 10 to five years.

The act also requires verifying all source documents, such as proof of residency, she said, and the division will have to scan the document and store the information electronically for 10 years.

"That could impact wait time and cost," Rolfe said.

While proponents of RFID say it is a step to enhance security, the report says it could also raise the risk of identity theft, since the cards could potentially "have the memory to store every detail about the person, including health records, family history, bank and credit card transactions."

CAGW is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, mismanagement and inefficiency in the federal government.


E-mail: dbulkeley@desnews.com