Enhanced driver's license gets green light

Image of hand holding ID Card

FEBRUARY 28, 2008

Land also applauds ID card fix
for temporary residents

Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land today commended members of the Legislature for passing bills to create an optional enhanced driver's license in Michigan that would be acceptable identification at America's borders. She also thanked them for passing legislation that would allow legal, temporary residents to apply for state-issued identification cards.

The bills, which passed with bipartisan support, now go to the governor for signature.

"I'm grateful to legislators for working together to offer the people of Michigan a more convenient and affordable option than a passport for cross-border travel," Land said. "An enhanced driver's license will help protect the security of our state and nation. It will also more smoothly merge federal border ID requirements with trade and tourism between Michigan and Canada, which averages more than a billion dollars a week."

In June 2005, Land proposed the creation of a driver's license that could also be used as a passport as a common-sense way for border states to meet requirements of the federal Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) while protecting their economic interests. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security eventually embraced the concept and has granted pilot projects for enhanced licenses to Washington, Vermont, Arizona, and New York.

Under WHTI, all travelers, including U.S. citizens, will need to produce a passport or similar secure document to enter the country by land as early as June 1, 2009. Due to the relative expense and difficulty of obtaining a passport-they cost $100 and take four to six weeks to receive from the U.S. State Department-it is expected that the requirement would discourage many people from traveling across the border for business and tourism.

Land is seeking approval from federal officials of a pilot project which would allow enhanced driver's licenses and personal ID cards to be used to meet WHTI in Michigan. Under the state legislation, the enhanced licenses would be voluntary and only available to Michigan residents who are also U.S. citizens. They would cost no more than $50. Those not wishing to obtain an enhanced license could otherwise be issued a standard driver's license.

Sponsors of the enhanced driver's license bills include Sen. Cameron Brown, R-Sturgis (S.B. 966); Rep. Steve Tobocman, D-Detroit (H.B. 5535); and Rep. Ed Clemente, D-Lincoln Park (H.B. 5536).

"As tougher federal ID requirements are phased in at the border, we're doing our best to give Michigan residents what they need to make the transition," said Sen. Brown.

"Privacy is an important consideration with the creation of identification cards like this and these bills ensure that any personal information contained on them will be safeguarded," said Rep. Clemente.

Among its provisions, the enhanced license legislation would:

  • Create the Enhanced Driver License and Enhanced Official State Personal Identification Card Act.
  • Require that enhanced licenses and personal ID cards include security measures to protect against unauthorized disclosure of personal information.
  • Require an applicant for an enhanced driver's license or ID card to provide documentation demonstrating his or her U.S. citizenship, full legal name, Social Security number, and other information.
  • Require the Secretary of State to verify the genuineness, regularity and legality of every application and other documentation submitted for an enhanced license or ID card.
  • Provide that a person who made a false certification or statement in applying for an enhanced driver's license or state ID card would be guilty of a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.
  • Permit the Secretary of State to enter into a memorandum of understanding with any federal agency to obtain approval for an enhanced license or ID card as proof of identity when entering the U.S.

"Michigan depends on the flexibility of same day travel that enables people to visit and spend dollars at local restaurants, casinos and businesses in Mexicantown, Greektown, and other attractions," said Rep. Tobocman. "The legislation acknowledges the need for secure borders while minimizing obstacles to our vital trade partnership with Canada."

Senate Bill 654, sponsored by state Sen. Alan Sanborn, R-Richmond, also passed today and ensures that a new law allowing legal, temporary residents to apply for driver's licenses also extends to state personal ID cards.

A law signed by the governor on Feb. 15 allows legal residents of Michigan who are here temporarily to apply for a driver's license. However, expanding that access to personal ID cards required separate legislation.

Sanborn said the legislation recognizes the many contributions made by legal, temporary residents.

"Our friends and neighbors who are here legally but temporarily play key roles in Michigan's economy and overall quality of life," Sanborn said. "Job providers throughout our state depend on them. This legislation is a common-sense way to protect Michigan's jobs climate and ensure that the needs of our temporary residents are met. I appreciate the support of Secretary Land and my legislative colleagues in addressing this issue."

For more information on the enhanced driver's license or the requirements to receive a driver's license or personal ID card, visit www.Michigan.gov/sos.