Feds set public meeting schedule for national driver's license standards

| 3/29/2005

Although the comment period regarding the development of national standards for driver’s licenses ended March 25, truckers and others still have an opportunity to make their opinions known to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

An advisory committee has been established to help develop the standards and DOT officials announced Tuesday, March 29, that the committee’s meeting schedule will include public comment periods. The makeup of the committee and the schedule for developing the national driver’s license standards were mandated by the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, which was a result of the September 11 Commission report.

Section 7212 of the act calls for national driver’s license standards to determine what documents should be required to prove a person’s identity and how to verify those documents’ authenticity. The act also requires that there be national standards for what information should be required on every driver’s license, regardless of the issuing state.

In this case – unlike most DOT rulemaking procedures – the agency will not create a proposed rule and ask for comment. Instead, it has formed a committee of state and federal officials to negotiate the rules, which the terrorism act mandates must be established by June 17, 2006. However, to give the DOT time to issue its final rule on the standards, the committee must make its recommendations by Sept. 17 this year.

To meet that deadline, the DOT has set the following meeting schedule for the committee:

  • April 19-21;
  • May 10-13;
  • May 31, June 1-3;
  • June 21-24; and
  • July 12-15.

The meetings will take place in the DOT headquarters building, 400 7th Street, SW., Washington, DC 20590, in Room 2230. All meetings are scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. and conclude at 5:30 p.m.

The meetings are open to the public, unless portions of the meeting are held in closed session, as provided under federal law. Attendance will be limited by the size of the meeting room and anyone from the public wishing to attend will have to enter through designated security checkpoints. Because of the time needed for security measures, the public is advised to arrive at 8:30 a.m.

Public comments will be allowed during each meeting session on Wednesdays from 2 to 3 p.m. The DOT published the following procedure for public comments in the Federal Register on March 29:

“Individuals wishing to address the committee should sign up on the public comment sign-in sheet before lunch and the time available will be reasonably divided among those who have signed up, but no one will have more than 15 minutes even if less than 4 people have signed up.

“Written comments and reports can be given to the facilitator for distribution to the committee members. Persons wanting to present written materials to the committee should make enough copies for all committee members.”

According to the DOT’s published material in the Federal Register, the agenda topics for all of the meetings will include, but not necessarily be limited to discussion of:

  • Documentation required as proof of identity of an applicant for a driver’s license or personal identification card, including the scope of personal identification cards covered by the requirement;
  • Verifiability of documents used;
  • Processing of applications for driver’s licenses and personal identification cards to prevent fraud;
  • Information to be included on licenses or ID cards;
  • Common machine-readable identity information to be included on licenses or ID cards, including defined minimum data elements.
  • Security standards to ensure that licenses and ID cards are resistant to tampering, alteration, or counterfeiting and capable of accommodating and ensuring the security of a digital photograph or other unique identifier;
  • Requirement that a state confiscate driver’s licenses or ID cards if any component or security feature of them is compromised;
  • Requirement that rules facilitate communication between the states’ chief driver licensing officials, an appropriate official of a federal agency and other relevant officials to verify the authenticity of documents, as appropriate, issued by such federal agency or entity and presented to prove the identity of an individual.
  • Ensuring that standards do not infringe on the states’ powers to set criteria concerning what categories of individuals are eligible to obtain driver’s licenses or ID cards;
  • Prohibition on requiring states to comply with any regulation that conflicts with or otherwise interferes with the full enforcement of state criteria concerning the categories of individuals that are eligible to obtain driver’s licenses or ID cards;
  • Prohibition on requiring a single design to which driver’s licenses or ID cards issued by all states must conform;
  • Procedures and requirements to protect the privacy rights of individuals who apply for and hold driver’s licenses and ID cards;
  • Assessment of the benefits and costs of the recommendations.

– By Coral Beach, Land Line staff