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Middle name or initial OK for Real ID

NO MORE STUCK IN THE MIDDLE OF REAL ID: The New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department has made a big policy change regarding that little thing that sits between first and last names.

Sometimes it’s a full middle name; sometimes it’s a middle initial; and if it’s not the same on all three classes of your documents for a Real ID – Social Security card/1099, birth certificate/passport, bills/statements proving residency – it puts you in the middle of a bureaucratic tangle to get all your documents the same.

What prompted the policy change – which Tax and Rev will explain in a sec – was the frustration of New Mexicans, like that expressed in this email:

“Well the state of New Mexico strikes again. I went to renew my drivers license thinking I had all the documentation that the Motor Vehicle Division required. Wrong. The Social Security card that I have had since 1969 didn’t have my middle name, only the initial.

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“I asked the girl why we weren’t aware of this problem, and she said it was only decided a week ago that it would be invalid and it was left up to the employee of MVD to let the applicant know. The same name with the initial was on all my 1099s that I had with me, but that didn’t make a difference. Returning home, I called the federal Social Security people who confirmed that the document I had was completely legal and should never have been in question. Now I am suppose to go to Social Security in downtown Albuquerque and request a new card and hope that the new one arrives before my expiration date at the end of the month. WHAT A MESS.”

In a July 10 email, Ben Cloutier, director of communications for Tax and Rev, says “after hearing concerns from New Mexicans, the MVD sought federal guidance to make it easier for New Mexicans to obtain Real IDs. Requirements were adjusted so that applicants can present any documents with a matching first and last name with either a middle initial or spelled out middle name – as long as the names don’t conflict.”

EMISSIONS CHECK YOUR RESPONSIBILITY: Tom Klingenhagen emails that “when I received my notice in the mail to reregister my Jeep, I returned the notice with a check. The MVD cashed my check and send me a sticker for my license plate. A few weeks later I received a letter from the MVD saying they suspended my registration because I didn’t return my registration renewal (with an) emission certification.”

Tom adds “I didn’t know I needed an emission check. The MVD used to print a note on the renewal, but they don’t do that anymore. The MVD wants me to give them $30 dollars to re-register my car … $30! That seems excessive. If I was missing something when I renewed my registration, why did they cash the check?”

Cloutier says the renewal postcards include the warning: “Emissions testing is required every 2 years for vehicles in Bernalillo County. Please verify your vehicle’s emission testing is up-to-date. Air care emissions compliance is verified electronically at time of registration and is updated at time of expiration, which could result in registration suspension.”

As for why MVD cashed the check, he says “by statute, MVD is required to deposit mailed checks within 24 business hours.”

YOU CAN’T PROVE CAR REGISTRATION BY CELLPHONE: Recently Albuquerque Police Chief Gorden Eden announced officers must accept digital proof of insurance, such as through an app or email. Prior to his decision, accepting digital proof was left up to each officer’s discretion.

So does the same go for proof of vehicle registration? A reader points out if the goal is to not leave documents in your vehicle for thieves to get a hold of, insurance and registration cards should go hand in hand.

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Except they don’t.

APD officer Simon Drobik says allowing for electronic proof requires an accessible database, and N.M.’s “DMV is not there yet.” Providing a photo of your registration card is not enough, he says.

And he adds that drivers should take care when handing their cellphones over to officers to show proof of insurance – no officer wants to be responsible when you toss your iPhone 6 out the window and he/she can’t catch it.

Editorial page editor D’Val Westphal tackles commuter issues for the Metro area on Mondays. Reach her at 823-3858; dwestphal@abqjournal.com; or P.O. Drawer J, Albuquerque, N.M. 87103.

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