WASHINGTON, Feb. 28, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has certified 19 states as compliant with the REAL ID Act’s rules.  Alabama, Florida, Kansas, Nebraska, Utah, and Vermont are the latest states to join Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming as meeting the Act’s requirements. REAL ID compliant Driver’s licenses and identification cards are part of a multi-layered national security strategy that aids law enforcement to distinguish reliable state credentials from states with lax identity authentication.

Coalition for a Secure Driver’s License (CSDL) President Brian Zimmer said, “The country is safer today because more than a third of all states are compliant with the 39 individual rules that are essentially security standards. Taken together, 30% of the adult population will soon be carrying a genuinely secure driver’s license. In addition to meeting the 9/11 Commission recommendations regarding secure standards for reliable identity documents, this progress will help to reduce fraud wherever proof of identity is a key to state or federal benefits.”

“The Coalition for a Secure Driver’s License congratulates the compliant states who provide their residents with important protections against identity fraud,” said Zimmer.

Last year, the governors of all states were notified by DHS that each needed to provide a status report on REAL ID compliance. All but two states, Arizona and Pennsylvania, provided a response.  Beginning in the autumn of 2013, enforcement will begin directed at non-compliant states. However, federal agencies will continue to accept all licenses and identification cards for boarding commercial aircraft and other official purposes until December 1, 2014. On that date, unless a further extension is provided, residents of non-compliant states will need a passport or another federally accepted document for official purposes.

The REAL ID Act, passed by Congress in 2005, enacts the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation that the Federal Government “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver's licenses.” The Act prohibits the Federal Government from accepting driver’s licenses and ID cards that do not meet a minimum security standard. The minimum standard includes processes to protect the card against counterfeiting and requires reliable documentation from an applicant to prove who he or she claims.