EPIC (2002)3 “YOUR PAPERS, PLEASE”
use of a single identifier, such as the SSN, wascontributing to identity theft and white-collarcrime.States have also passed laws restricting thecircumstances when a person can be required toprovide a drivers license. And a federal appealscourt ruled recently that it is unconstitutional forpolice to arrest someone for failure to provideidentity documents.
All of these developments in the United Statesover the past decade indicate widespread effortsat all levels of government to protect privacyand to reduce the risk that could result from theuse of the state drivers license as a de factonational identifier.
Analysis of AAMVA recommendations
Set out below is an assessment of the eightprinciples contained in the initial AAMVAreport. The first three principles put forward byAAMVA are:
AAMVA(1) Improve and standardize initialdriver’s license and ID card processes AAMVA(2) Standardize the definition of residency in all states and provinces AAMVA(3) Establish uniform procedures for serving non-citizens
AAMVA seeks to "improve and standardizeinitial driver's license and ID card processes."This would include standardizing the definitionof residency and imposing uniform procedures
Carey v. Nevada Gaming Control Board
AAMVA Press Release, January 14 2002[http://www.aamva.org/news/nwsPressReleaseAAMVAHelpsSecureSaferAmerica.asp].
. Such a proposal raises seriousquestions about the appropriate scope of stateDMV authority and infringes on a state's right todevelop systems and processes to serve theparticular needs of its citizens.AAMVA states its aim to "develop/capturecitizenship/residence on document and/ordatabase" within the next year.
It is not clearwhat role establishing citizenship and uniformresidency status plays in the core function of adriver's license: ensuring that there are trained,safe drivers on the roads. In fact, the proposedrequirements would undermine the public safetyrationale of a driver's license by discouragingundocumented aliens from getting licenses,leading to more uninsured and untrained driverson the roads and contributing to the nationalroad toll of 40,000 deaths per year.
Differentstates have formulated specific responses to thisissue based on their individual circumstances,and there is no overriding federal need toestablish uniform procedures.
Centralizing authority over personal identity necessarily increases both the risk of ID theft as well as the scope of harm when ID theft occurs.
Establishing citizenship and residency statusshifts the role of the state DMVs from licensingdrivers to verifying the identity of allAmericans. AAMVA relies on faulty reasoningto make its argument: driver's licenses are usedas identity cards for purposes unrelated to theoperation of a motor vehicle, such purposes
Other consequences of standardization are discussedbelow in the context of AAMVA's proposal for a"uniform" national driver's license.
AAMVA Special Task Force on IdentificationSecurity Report to the AAMVA Board at 4[Hereinafter “AAMVA Task Force Report”].