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REAL ID Laws

History & Consequences

Violence Against Women Act Protections

Homeland Security Regulations

State Reactions

Resources and Links

History of the REAL ID Act and Consequences

In May 2005 Congress passed the REAL ID Act as part of the War Supplemental Appropriations Bill.Although intended to limit terroristsí access to state issued identification cards and driverís licenses, REAL ID endangers thousands of victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking.

The new driverís license requirements passed in the REAL ID Act require all applicants to use their principal residential address on their driverís license or state identification card.This requirement forces victims to disclose their confidential addresses if they want to obtain federally acceptable forms of identification. Without a federally valid driverís license or identification card, victims could be denied access to boarding airplanes, trains, receiving benefits, opening banking and credit accounts and the use of postal boxes.

Protections in the Violence Against Women Act

In 2006 President Bush signed the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). This law provides an amendment to the REAL ID Act that would protect victims of domestic violence. Section 827 of VAWA provides the Department of Homeland Security guidance on how to protect victims:

Section 827: ALTERNATIVE VALID ADDRESS AUTHORIZED FOR VICTIM PROTECTION AND CONFIDENTIALITY- Victims who have been subjected to battery, extreme cruelty, domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault or stalking may be exempt from the requirements of section 202(b)(6) and permitted to use an alternate address on their driver's license or identification card

DHS Regulations of REAL ID Laws

In May 2007 the Department of Homeland Security released preliminary regulations on the REAL ID Act including exemptions for victims of domestic violence:

Page 142:††(f) Address of prinicipal residence, except individuals who satisfy one of the following:

  1. If the individual is enrolled in a state address confidentiality program;

  2. If the individualís address is entitle to be suppresses under State or Federal la or suppressed by a court order;

Page 68:†††a. Confidential Address. Section 202(b)(6) of the Act requires that the driverís license or identification card include the personís address of principal residence. Many States have laws that allow addresses to be kept confidential in certain circumstances; for example, where the disclosure of an address may jeopardize the personal safety of such an individual, such as victims of domestic violence, judges, protected witnesses, and law enforcement personnel. Some States provide the standards for address confidentiality through legislation or in their exceptions processing.

Page69:†††Consequently, DHS is proposing to exempt individuals who are entitled to enroll in State address confidentiality programs, whose addresses are entitled to be suppressed under State or Federal law or by a court order, or who are protected from disclosure of information pursuant to section 384 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 from the requirement to have their address displayed on REAL ID driverís licenses and identification cards.

Summary of State Reaction to REAL ID and Address Confidentiality Programs

Click Here to see a summary of each stateís reaction to implementing the REAL ID laws and the status of their Address Confidentiality programs.

Other Resources

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