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ID Requirements to Get Driver's License Tightened

Feb. 2, 2009 — Thanks to a directive from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, drivers getting new or renewal driver's license now need to show two forms of identification.
However, St. John resident Terry McKoy hadn't heard about his change in the process and got a big surprise when he went last week to renew his driver's license at the St. John branch of the Motor Vehicle Bureau.
"When I got there, they told me I needed my Social Security card," he said.
That's not all he needed. In a one-from-column-A and a one-from-column-B approach, drivers born in the United States must show their birth certificate or passport. Non-natives residents must show their naturalization papers or permanent resident card, usually referred to as a green card.
With the column A requirement out of the way, they then must show their choice of several different forms of identification. They include a Social Security card, a 1099 income-tax form, a W-2 income-tax form, a military discharge form DD 214, a pay stub with name and Social Security number, or a V.I. government-issued identification card, such as a voter registration card.
McKoy, who said he lost his Social Security card years ago, went back to Motor Vehicle with his passport and a 1099 form and a stamped copy of his tax return, but the person declined to give him a driver's license because he didn't have his Social Security card.
That was a mistake, said Motor Vehicle Director Jerris Browne.
"I will call them right now," he said when told of the situation Monday.
McKoy said he was told at Motor Vehicle that he had a two-month grace period to get his license renewed, but that won't help much if he has to make an unexpected trip off island and needs to rent a car.
According to Brown, if someone has lost his Social Security card, he can go to the Social Security office and get a letter saying he's applied for a replacement card. Motor Vehicle will accept this, Brown said.
The new identification requirements, part of a federal program called REAL ID, are part of measures taken in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The requirements went into effect in May 2008.
"This is to ensure they are the person they say they are and that they are legally in the United States," Browne said.
According to the Homeland Security website, the identification requirement is an important step toward enhancing national security.
"Because a driver's license serves so many purposes (access to federal buildings, nuclear power plants, boarding aircraft, etc.), terrorists actively seek fraudulent state-issued identification," the website reads. "The REAL ID rules will make it more difficult for them, while making it easier for law enforcement to detect falsified documents."
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