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Cost and technology prevent state from REAL ID compliance

By June Watanabe

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 03:17 a.m. HST, May 05, 2011



Question: Is there any new information on when Hawaii driver's licenses must be updated to meet TSA regulations for air travel? If current licenses are not due to expire for several years, will we need to replace them before then?

Answer: Driver's licenses will begin being updated to at least meet the requirements of the Legal Presence Act, passed last year by the state Legislature.

But Hawaii continues to be among states that have not yet complied with all the other requirements of the federal REAL ID Act.

So whether Hawaii driver's licenses and state ID cards will be accepted for airline travel beyond the current compliance deadline of May 11 remains uncertain, although officials are hopeful the deadline will be extended again.

The REAL ID Act requires all states to issue driver's licenses and state IDs that meet federal standards, with enhanced security features and proof of legal presence in the United States, in order to board airplanes or enter federal buildings.

But Hawaii and other states have balked because of the millions of dollars it will cost to implement the new requirements, without federal funding.

"Unrealistic or unacceptable requirements are still issues" as well, said Dennis Kamimura, administrator of the city Motor Vehicle and Licensing Division.

(Hawaii's four counties issue driver's licenses.)

It is impossible for Hawaii to become compliant by the May deadline, Donalyn Dela Cruz, spokeswoman for Gov. Neil Abercrombie, said yesterday.

She noted that 16 states have passed laws prohibiting compliance with REAL ID, while 10 states, including Hawaii, have passed resolutions criticizing or denouncing the act.

However, Kamimura said, "We are working toward meeting as many of the requirements as possible" before May.

Among the REAL ID requirements is a computer system to verify birth certificates, another jurisdiction's driver's licenses/ID cards and passports.

Such systems "are not yet available or access is limited and cost prohibitive," Kamimura said. "So even if Hawaii wanted to be fully REAL ID complaint, we are prevented from doing so with these and other limitations."

The TSA website, http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/acceptable_documents.shtm, says that "all states are currently in compliance" with meeting REAL ID benchmarks, such as the Legal Presence Act.

Kamimura said the key word is "benchmarks."

Current Homeland Security rules require jurisdictions to meet all REAL ID requirements, not just benchmarks, he said.

Kamimura said Honolulu is expected to begin implementing the Legal Presence Act in February or March.

Meanwhile, "we understand that (Homeland Security) may be amending its final rules sometime in early 2011 which will make some of the REAL ID requirements more realistic and achievable and hopefully extend the May 11, 2011, deadline."

Question: With the IRS not sending out tax booklets this year, where and when can I pick mine up?

Answer: You can get tax forms and instructions at IRS.gov; at a local IRS office (on Oahu, at 300 Ala Moana Blvd.; 524-5953) or participating libraries.

See http://www.irs.gov/individuals/article /0,,id=228162,00.html for more information.

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Write to "Kokua Line" at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or e-mail kokualine@staradvertiser.com.

Correction: Hawaii post offices do not have IRS forms. A previous version of this story incorrectly said the forms are available at local post offices.






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