Arizona to offer driver’s licenses with citizenship identifiers

| 8/30/2007

Arizona has joined a growing list of states that plan to offer driver’s licenses with special declarations of U.S. citizenship.

Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff recently announced an agreement to allow Arizona state driver’s license holders to apply for a “technologically enhanced driver’s license” that would allow U.S. citizens in the state to re-enter the U.S. at Arizona’s international border crossings.

Spokeswomen for DHS and Napolitano’s office said the secure ID program is still in the planning stage and authorities hadn’t yet decided whether CDLs would be included.

Beginning Jan. 31, 2008, the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative will require U.S. and Canadian citizens to present either a WHTI compliant document or government-issued photo ID with another proof of citizenship such as a birth certificate.

The new Arizona licenses will be more expensive than a standard driver’s license, but will allow residents access for land and sea returns to U.S. soil without the WHTI’s requirements for other proof of citizenship.

Napolitano must persuade the Arizona State Legislature to approve the plan.

Washington and Vermont have previously announced plans for a similar program, as well as the Canadian province of Ontario.

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer