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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 14, 2008
Contact: Don Cookson
626-8404

Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap and Bureau of Motor Vehicles Executives Detail New Requirements for Issuing Driver Licenses and State ID Cards

New procedures to “enhance the security and acceptability of Maine credentials” apply to everyone

Augusta- Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap says new rules for obtaining driver licenses and state identification cards in Maine “are designed to keep inconvenience to a minimum, while at the same time strengthening our credentialing process.” Public Law Chapter 648, An Act to Enhance the Security of State Credentials, was passed during the first special session of the 124th State Legislature. It requires that all Mainers seeking to obtain or renew a Maine driver license or ID card provide “valid documentary evidence of legal presence in the United States”. According to Secretary Dunlap, “over 99% of Maine’s population is made up of U.S. citizens. The most common and straightforward way for those people to comply with this new law is to simply show us their certified birth certificate, proving they were born here in the U.S. That one document, all by itself, satisfies the new legal presence requirement, and will be the best way for the overwhelming majority of Mainers to get a license or ID card without delay.” The new rules take effect this weekend, and will be in place for customers at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles starting on Monday, November 17. “People will only have to provide this proof one time, and our computer system will capture this information, and it will become a permanent part of a person’s record,” Dunlap explained.

“The legal presence requirement, along with the recently enacted state residency requirement, means Maine credentials will be more secure than ever before,” said Deputy Secretary of State Catherine Curtis of the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV). “We know that any time people need to meet new requirements when getting something as common as their license or ID card, it can be difficult to get used to, but our branch office staff are ready to handle people’s questions. Our entire training effort has been squarely focused on providing the best customer service as we help people comply with these new requirements. We’ll be working hard to make sure any inconvenience is kept to a minimum.” A detailed list of documents which can be used to meet both the state residency requirement and the new legal presence requirement is available on the Secretary of State’s website at: www.maine.gov/sos/bmv/licenses/renewal.htm . “We’re asking people to take a look at the list before visiting the BMV, to make sure they have what they need to either get a new credential or renew an existing one, Curtis said, further noting, “ but it’s important for people to know we are ready to work with them when they come to the BMV.”

The new law also closes gaps that previously existed in Maine’s system. “From now on, any license or ID card we issue to a person who is not a citizen will expire on the same day as their permission to be here, as granted by the federal government,” Dunlap said. “This means licenses and ID cards will no longer be valid after expiration of a non-citizen’s visa or passport, or other federally issued document. All of our credentials will be in step with any and all federally issued documents when it comes to expiration. This is one area many people had concerns about when we did an in-depth review of our licensing process, and I’m confident this law addresses those concerns.”

Since the new law requires a visit to the BMV to provide necessary documents, the state’s highly popular on-line license renewal service has been temporarily suspended. “We know the on-line renewal service is hugely popular,” said Patty Morneault, Director of Public Services for BMV. “It’s popular with us too, and we’ll be bringing it back as soon as we can. That’s why we’ll be recording a person’s citizenship status on our system. Once that information is saved, it will make on-line renewals and duplicates possible once again.”

“All of the changes to the way we issue licenses, whether it’s requiring proof of a person’s legal status or state residency, are part of a major cooperative effort involving agencies within both the state and federal government,” said Dunlap. "Our efforts are focused on making sure that as we take steps to assure the integrity of our credentials that we also make sure that the public enjoys the service levels that it has come to expect from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles.”

The entire text of the law can be seen on line here: http://janus.state.me.us/legis/ros/lom/LOM123rd/123S1/PUBLIC648.asp