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REAL ID program in Iowa has not caught on, leads to low conversion

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SIOUX CITY, Iowa — Many licensed drivers in Iowa have not converted their identification to a version designed to help reduce identity theft and fraud.

The Sioux City Journal (http://bit.ly/1GjoI1u ) reports two years after Iowa implemented the REAL ID program, only about 250,000 of Iowa's 2.1 million licensed drivers have switched to identification that may be needed in the future to enter some federal buildings or board a plane.

Mark Lowe, the director of the Iowa Department of Transportation's Motor Vehicle Division, says he is not surprised by the low number, and that the department needs to continue its awareness campaign to increase conversion.

REAL ID was adopted in 2005, in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, to help states verify the identities of people applying for driver's licenses and cut down on identity theft.

People who get a license for the first time are issued a REAL ID driver's license because they must bring a birth certificate and other proof of residence. Those who renew their identification are not required to get the REAL ID, but can for a $10 fee.

"We recognize there's a certain amount of hassle there, and that hassle is not necessary if you're not going to need it," Lowe said. "That was one of the reasons we wanted to provide a choice."

PHOTO: Sadie Hettinger, 16, of Sioux City looks into the vision exam machine before getting her new ID card as her legal guardian Tina Heard, stands with her at the driver's license station in Sioux City, Iowa on Friday, Feb. 27, 2015. Iowa and other states are slowly implementing the REAL ID program, an upcoming standard of identification that will eventually be phased into restricted areas such as military facilities and airports.  (AP Photo/The Sioux City Journal, Justin Wan )
Sadie Hettinger, 16, of Sioux City looks into the vision exam machine before getting her new ID card as her legal guardian Tina Heard, stands with her at the driver's license station in Sioux City, Iowa on Friday, Feb. 27, 2015. Iowa and other states are slowly implementing the REAL ID program, an upcoming standard of identification that will eventually be phased into restricted areas such as military facilities and airports. (AP Photo/The Sioux City Journal, Justin Wan )

Iowa is one the 21 states in the country that are certified as REAL ID-compliant.

Implementation of REAL ID has been slowed down because some people have raised concerns about the program being a way for the federal government to build national databases of information on individuals. Others simply may not be able to easily access their birth certificate, and may not be able to afford the cost of getting a copy of the document.

Even though the federal government has set an Oct. 1, 2020, deadline for individuals to be compliant, Lowe says he's doubtful that people will be blocked from getting on planes due to the number of states that have refused to comply.

Lowe says that those who don't fly or enter federal buildings don't need the REAL ID.

"We don't want to make anybody get it if they don't want to," Lowe said. "What we want to make sure is that folks who need it are getting it."


Information from: Sioux City Journal, http://www.siouxcityjournal.com

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