By next year, Arizona driver licenses might be good only for their original purpose: driving.
If Gov. Doug Ducey doesn’t sign off on an omnibus transportation bill in the coming days, using an Arizona driver’s license to catch a flight to San Diego or enter a federal building may no longer be permitted. Arizonans will have to use a passport.
That’s because Arizona currently doesn’t produce REAL IDs. Arizona is one of only five states that has yet to produce these federally approved identification cards. The REAL ID Act of 2005 was passed by the federal government to standardize state IDs across the country following the 9/11 attacks.
REAL ID legislation first was authored by Sen. Bob Worsley, R-Mesa. It made its way through the Legislature and then was inserted in an omnibus transportation bill that a House panel approved early Thursday.
Though pricing ultimately will be determined by the Arizona Department of Transportation, Worsley estimated the cost of a REAL ID will be $15. Unlike a traditional Arizona driver license, REAL ID owners would be required to renew every eight years.
Other changes will be how the cards are put together and an encrypted gold star will be added to the ID that will identify it as a REAL ID license.
Some state legislators worried that REAL IDs would reduce citizens’ privacy because they would be part of a database that shared driver license information with the federal government. That’s why Arizona in 2008 passed legislation that prohibited the state from issuing REAL ID licenses.
A benefit to getting a REAL ID instead of a passport is the cost. A passport costs $135 for an adult and is good for 10 years. Renewal passports cost $110.
And while standing in line at the MVD can be frustrating, the wait time to receive a passport can be four to six weeks. People who pay an additional $60 fee can get it within three weeks.
As an advocacy organization representing more than 860,000 Arizonans, AAA is actively involved in the legislative process. Each session, the club actively monitors or engages in more than 100 bills introduced at the state capitol that pertain to the transportation, automotive, travel and insurance industries.
Arizonans can monitor the progress of bills and take action by visiting AAA’s Issues Action Center.
(Editor’s Note: Valerie Vinyard is a public affairs specialist for AAA Arizona. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 258-0518.)