Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Another ordeal survived

In the grand scheme of things, renewing a driver's license is no big deal.
I have avoided writing anything more about this for the past few months because I knew my time was coming. When Missouri's new regulations concerning driver's licenses were first publicized several months back, I criticized them as foolish, and I will repeat that criticism.
The hoops state officials are requiring Missouri drivers to jump through to obtain or to renew their driver's licenses are not only unnecessary, but they do nothing to address the problems they were created to solve.
For those who are not familiar with the regulations, before they can renew their driver's licenses, Missourians have to provide their actual birth certificates, their Social Security cards, and some other form of identification that proves where they live.
For many people, especially those who do not have access to their birth records, this has posed a considerable hardship. To others, including me, it has been an irritant. I have been driving in the state of Missouri for more than three decades, I should not have to prove that I belong here. I have been in the state system for years. Making me prove who I am does nothing to make this state safer and it does nothing to prevent identity theft.
This is not just the complaint of an old grouch (those it is a complaint and I am an old grouch). Consider what I had to do to comply with the state regulations:
1. I filled out a form and mailed it in to the state with a check for $15 to get my birth certificate. So, yes I had that legal document, but how in the world does anyone know that I am the person who is listed on the certificate? No one at the Health Department asked me if I was William Randall Turner. No one is going to do a thorough background check to make sure that I am the person who is legally entitled to that document. This does not improve security and it definitely does not offer any shield against identity theft.
2. I lost my Social Security card 28 or 29 years ago. The people at the Social Security office in Joplin were friendly and helpful and my replacement card came today. They checked my driver's license to make sure I was legitimate and I answered some questions that probably anyone could have answered about my background in order to get my card. Again, they had no way of being sure I was William Randall Turner. This does not improve security and it definitely does not offer any shield against identity theft.
3. My third piece of identification was a Jasper County Voter Identification card. Now if Senator Delbert Scott gets his way, my next card will have to have a picture of the face that traumatizes 130 South Middle School eighth graders every day. Right now, the card only has my name, address, and the location of my polling place. This does not improve security and it definitely does not offer any shield against identity theft.
Suffice it to say, these regulations are a joke. If you need any further evidence, just take a look at the state website and see the bills that are being proposed which would exempt people from complying with them. If they are as important as our legislators said when they added these further inconveniences to our lives, then there should be no exceptions.
A wiser path, one I don't anticipate our leaders will take, would be to eliminate these requirements and go back to using common sense.
They tell me I will not have to mess with it any more, but who knows what they will come up with in six years. How long will it before we have to have our DNA tested to renew our driver's licenses?


Anonymous said...

As you say, this may be a joke, BUT the state gets $15 from each of us for a new birth certificate. My wife had her original from 1939 but it did not have a raised seal on it. So off to the Health Department for a new one for only $15 with a raised seal. No questions though. Just money.

Anonymous said...

It's my understanding that if you are a married woman who took your husband's name, you have to have your marriage license as well as your birth certificate to renew a license. I stood in line at the DMV behind a guy who had already been there twice and had been sent home each time because he didn't have the proper information (I believe a raised seal was one of his problems). What a hassle for Missouri citizens. But I'm sure the state will rake a pretty penny from people who have to pay to get copies of everything.