Driver's license ID provision gets the boot

A controversial provision requiring state motor vehicle departments to use commercial data brokers to verify the identities of truck drivers and other commercial motorists was removed from a federal highway and transportation bill.

A spokesman for the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee confirmed July 29 that the amendment didn’t make it through the conference committee. Both the Senate and House approved the bill, the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act of 2005 – A Legacy for Users.

“There were too many objections for that amendment to overcome so it was not included,” the spokesman said.

The provision within the bill would have required state DMVs to use third-party vendors, such as LexisNexis and ChoicePoint, to verify the identities of commercial driver’s license holders.

Jason King, a spokesman for the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA), which opposed the provision, said it was unnecessary because federal law already requires the state agencies to verify a commercial driver’s Social Security number and date of birth before issuing a commercial driver’s license.

The states also use the Commercial Driver’s License Information System (CDLIS) to find out whether drivers hold commercial licenses from other states, he said. Additionally, he said the Real ID Act, which is supposed to be implemented within three years, will also impose additional identity checks. The Patriot Act requires background checks for those transporting hazardous materials.

King said the provision would have cost states $1.3 million collectively if it cost about $1 per inquiry. About 600,000 new commercial licenses are issued annually and about 800,000 licenses are renewed. There are about 12 million licensed commercial drivers total. He also said AAMVA officials were concerned about inaccurate information kept by such data brokers and recent database breaches.

However, the new law includes a provision to modernize CDLIS, established 17 years ago. The system, which contains about 10.5 million records, serves as a clearinghouse for commercial driver licensing and conviction data and is operated by AAMVAnet, a nonprofit subsidiary of AAMVA.

“This system is a perfect opportunity for some hacker to get into to steal some driver’s information,” King said previously, adding there are no examples of any such breaches. “And if we don’t fix this at least, we’ll have some serious problems down the road.”

Under the law, the Transportation Department secretary and state representatives have 120 days to develop and publish a comprehensive national plan to modernize the system that complies with federal technology security standards, provides electronic data exchange, ensures data is posted correctly and consistently, and integrates the commercial driver’s license, among other things.

AAMVA and several stakeholders previously proposed a plan to modernize the system that included replacing the indexed file system with newer database technology, implementing encryption across the network to prevent unauthorized access, better utilizing the name field to more accurately identify drivers and improved use of Extensible Markup Language for better data exchange, among other things.


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