SOURCE: Michigan Secretary of State

December 05, 2007 12:29 ET

The Drive for a Safer Michigan

Secretary Land Proposes Enhancing Security of Driver Licenses, Adding Convenient Option

LANSING, MI--(Marketwire - December 5, 2007) - Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land today announced an initiative to provide Michigan residents with another layer of protection by enhancing the security of driver licenses.

"Our world continues to change and Michigan must keep pace," Land said. "This plan ensures the integrity of state-issued licenses and helps to secure America's borders. Of course, our customers' needs are always important to us. That's why we crafted our initiative to provide residents with a convenient option depending on their travel needs. Bolstering the security of our licenses is good for families, good for Michigan and good for America."

Land's proposal contains two packages of bills. One deals with upgrading Michigan's "standard" driver license and the other creates an optional "enhanced" driver license that is suitable for border crossing under the federal Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI).

--  The upgraded "standard" driver license and state-issued identification
    card will have added security features to prevent fraud.  Only people who
    are Michigan residents and legally present in the United States will be
    eligible for the license.  The upgraded license also can be used by
    residents for domestic air travel when the federal REAL ID Act takes
    effect.  Without these upgraded documents, all Michigan residents will need
    a passport to board even domestic flights.  Primary sponsors of these bills
    are state Sens. Alan Sanborn and Tony Stamas and state Reps. Phillip Pavlov
    and Mike Nofs.
--  The optional "enhanced" driver license and state ID card can be used
    for travel to and from Canada and other Western Hemisphere countries once
    the more stringent policies under WHTI take effect.  Only Michigan
    residents who are also U.S. citizens will be eligible for the enhanced
    license.  Residents who do not have an enhanced license or ID card will
    need a passport to visit Canada.  Land first introduced the concept of an
    enhanced license in 2005 as a way to prevent the new federal requirements
    from negatively impacting commerce and inconveniencing residents who visit
    Canada.  This plan has been supported by many in the business community,
    including the Detroit Regional Chamber.  Primary sponsors of the WHTI bills
    are state Sens. Jud Gilbert, John Pappageorge and Cameron Brown and state
    Reps. Steve Tobocman, Ed Clemente and Bill Huizenga.

"Southeast Michigan, particularly tourist destinations like downtown Detroit and Mexicantown, and our entire state have strong economic ties to Canada," said Tobocman, D-Detroit. "The enhanced license will protect that vital relationship by keeping border crossings convenient without sacrificing homeland security."

"Nothing is more important than the safety of Michigan's residents," said Gilbert, R-Algonac. "By enacting these changes, we will take a critical step in ensuring a secure future for our state and nation."

Both the upgraded standard and enhanced versions will comply with REAL ID Act requirements, a national effort to prevent terrorism, reduce fraud and improve the reliability of identification documents issued by states. Only the enhanced documents -- which are optional -- will comply with WHTI.

In addition to the latest security features, the upgraded standard license will contain bar code technology similar to the one on current Michigan driver licenses and ID cards.

Cost of the new licenses and ID cards will be slightly higher than the current versions due to the enhanced security features and additional required document checks. The actual amount won't be determined until all components of the law are finalized.

The federal government has yet to release final rules for the REAL ID Act.

Contact Information

  • Contact:
    Kelly Chesney
    (517) 373-2520