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Joe Miller: Sept. 11 reminds us of the need for REAL IDs

On Jan. 3, the West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles began issuing driver's licenses and identification cards that are compliant with the federal government's requirements for the REAL ID Act of 2005.

Those requirements essentially mean a licensing "re-enrollment" for drivers and customers needing ID cards.

While DMV is adhering to the government standards, we are not requiring you to bring in anything more than what has always been required to bring to the DMV for licensing transactions at one time or another. It's just that now, these documents must all be brought in together, at one time, for scanning and creating a historical record.  

Nine months later, I reflect on the benefits and challenges of West Virginia's implementation of REAL ID, but also on why I believe it is so important that we all remain focused on the program.

Benefits include the convenience of having federally approved identification for boarding aircraft and getting into federal buildings and other federal purposes.

Customers who lose their identification through fire, flood, theft and other reasons benefit from having all their documents scanned, because it will ease the reissuance of their licenses.

Furthermore, the process of printing a REAL ID license or ID card is done with a higher level of security, protecting customers from identity theft and fraud.

The biggest challenge of the REAL ID program has been the documentation requirements.  Although customers have brought in all the required documents at some point in their lives, perhaps it has been years and those vital documents have been lost or destroyed.  

DMV is working tirelessly through any issue to bring much success to the program.

And for what reason?

Eleven years ago today, terrorists attacked U.S. soil, killing thousands of Americans.

Lives were shattered, and our world seemed to stand still as we tried to process what had happened. Suicide missions carried out by 19 hijackers took innocent lives by flying planes into our buildings or crashing them on land.

Eighteen of the 19 terrorist hijackers had obtained over 30 fraudulent driver's licenses and ID cards from several states. Those licenses and ID cards helped the terrorists be accepted into flight schools, and then onto our airplanes.

It would be highly improbable, now, that someone could obtain a fraudulent driver's license or ID card in West Virginia since the implementation of the REAL ID program.

Upon reflection on the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the 9/11 Commission made a key recommendation to standardize and upgrade the driver's licensing process nationwide.

I truly believe that REAL ID is a step forward for West Virginia and the nation in terms of safety and security. Never again do we desire to feel that vulnerability, that fear, that permeated each of us 11 years ago today.

It is for that reason that I continue to support West Virginia's progress in REAL ID, and I encourage West Virginians to do the same.  

Please don't hesitate to visit our web site at or call our Call Center at 1-800-642-9066 if you have any questions or concerns regarding obtaining a driver's license or ID card.

Miller is commissioner of the state Division of Motor Vehicles.



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