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Real ID still causing headaches at MVD

westphal_dval_road-warrorWHAT A DIFFERENCE 4 MONTHS DON’T MAKE: Remember when the state of New Mexico started issuing Real-ID-compliant driver’s licenses last fall? All the confusion, frustration, multiple trips to the Motor Vehicle Division office, etc?

Fast forward from November to March, and reports from the front lines are that things are no calmer, easier or one-and-done.

JF emails “I went to my local MVD office to get my yearly updated driver’s license. I had all of the documents listed on their website, including my current passport. However, before I handed the clerk my passport, I gave him my Global Entry card, which expires Feb. 2, 2021. I explained to him that to get this card you have to be fingerprinted, photographed and survive a one-on-one interview. He looked confused and said he would have to check with his supervisor, who refused to accept this card.

“This card is the best and most secure ID available to the public, yet it was turned down. Is this a new standard of incompetence or of ignorance or both?”

Neither. If a form of ID is not on the Homeland Security-approved list for Real ID, no matter how good it is, it is not accepted. Many military veterans have called, emailed and written with similar concerns.

And Helen Salas called to say it took her five trips to four different MVD offices to get her license – not easy for anyone, but especially when you’re 84 and the clerks treat you “like you’re not observing the laws.”

“They make a person feel like they’re committing a crime,” she says, just because they don’t have the right documents.

Helen says she’s able-bodied, does her own yard work on ¾ of an acre and has good credit. What she doesn’t have is a valid passport. Although hers is expired, she maintains the information on it “is still right.”

Nevertheless, that document list requires everything be valid/current.

The most common documents used are:

• For proof of ID number (1 required): Social Security card – not laminated – or W-2 or 1099;

• For proof of ID (1 required): valid passport or birth certificate;

• For proof of residency (two required): insurance/utility (no cellphone)/credit card bills or bank statements with home street address. Insurance bills must be dated within the past six months; other bills and statements within the last 60 days.

The other wrinkle is your name needs to be the same on all the documents. If it isn’t, you also need to present the linking document, i.e. marriage license, divorce decree, adoption papers, etc., that shows how/why your name changed.

And if you simply do not have the documents required for a Real ID license, you can still get a driver authorization card. That ID allows you to drive legally, it just won’t allow you to board a commercial aircraft after October of 2020.

The list of acceptable documents for a driver authorization card is much broader. Both lists are at

For our readers JF and Helen, all worked out in the end; each had additional documents with them that satisfied the Real ID requirements. Helen went with a neighbor on her fifth trip and had her carry half of her stack of documents.

The state Taxation and Revenue Department, which oversees MVD, has said that once you get a Real ID license you will not have to go through this again.

But Helen says she’s keeping her stack handy just in case for her renewal next year.

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