A federalized standard for drivers licenses will make cops lives a little easier, said Col. Keith Squires, director of Utah's Division of Homeland Security.

If Utah decides to comply with the REAL ID Act, it will "increase our chances of being confident the drivers license in front of us is valid and not a forged document" when police pull over an out-of-state driver, Squires told lawmakers on the Transportation Interim Committee on Wednesday.

The federal act was enacted in 2005 as a means of enhancing the security of licenses and identification cards used for federal purposes. States must comply or their residents won't be able to use their state licenses or IDs to board airplanes, enter federal facilities or nuclear power plants.

Utah legislators are still trying to decide whether the state will comply with the act.

Only five states have enacted legislation leading to compliance with the act, according to the National Conference on State Legislatures. Another 13 states have refused to comply, and 16 states have enacted resolutions urging Congress to rethink the act.

Rep. Todd Kiser, R-Sandy, asked Squires if it would create a "safety issue" by not complying with the REAL ID act, but Squires said that likely wouldn't happen. Law enforcement would still analyze identification to determine if it's a forgery, he said. The REAL ID Act would just make the task of spotting forgeries easier.

"REAL ID will give us opportunities for more confidence in knowing the state-issued documents of identification and drivers licenses have gone through a standardized process, there are certain security measures in place," Squires said.

It will cost the state $3 million to comply with the act's guidelines, which were issued in January, Nanette Rolfe, head of the Driver License Division, told members of the Transportation Interim Committee last month.

The ongoing costs would also be reduced from the initial estimate of up to $4 million each year to $500,000 to $1 million each year, Rolfe said.


E-mail: ldethman@desnews.com