Real ID Controversy

December 16, 2019
Peel Law Firm Real ID

Tennessee's Real I.D. Controversy

REAL ID compliant driver licenses have a gold circle with a star in the right corner of the license to indicate it is a compliant “REAL ID”.

Driver's licenses are issued by each state. The federal government issues passports, but not driver’s licenses. Some states have been notoriously easy to get driver’s licenses in, such as Tennessee.

As a result, Mostafa Said Abou-Shahin, Khaled Odtllah and Sakher A. Hammad each admitted (when they pled guilty in 2002) that they tried to obtain drivers licenses illegally, traveling to all the way to Memphis from New York. Why? They heard it was so easy to get driver’s licenses in Tennessee, where Social Security numbers were not required.

You may recall that Katherine Smith who had been charged with providing Tennessee drivers licenses without proper documents to Odtllah, was bizarrely found on fire in a rolling car, burned alive. The car belonged to Odtllah, who apparently had been in custody at the time. No one was ever charged in her death in the 17 years since.

The United States has no national identification card. Any attempt to do has been resisted. State driver's licenses have been used as a de facto standard form of identification. This Real ID is supposed to bridge that gap. You will need a Real ID for:

  • Accessing Federal facilities or entering nuclear power plants
  • Boarding commercial aircraft (even domestic flights) (however, a passport or other federally-issued ID will still work)

You will NOT need a REAL ID to:

  • Drive, vote, purchase alcohol or cigarettes
  • Access hospitals
  • Visit the post office
  • Access federal courts
  • Apply for or receive federal benefits such as social security or veterans’ benefits

Before a card can be issued, the applicant must provide the following documentation.

  • A photo ID, or a non-photo ID that includes full legal name and birthdate
  • Documentation of birthdate
  • Documentation of legal resident status and Social Security number (new)
  • Documentation showing name and principal residence address
  • Digital images of each document will be stored in each state DMV database.

So, unless you need to go on to a federal base, you may just wait. On flying, if you already have a valid passport (so you can fly) the Real ID may not be a necessary change just yet. But it will be one day. One day all this will be contained in a small, implantable chip.

Mr. Peel seeks justice for those injured in truck, motorcycle, and car crashes. He often addresses churches, clubs and groups without charge. Mr. Peel may be reached through wherein other articles may be accessed.

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