Testimony of Michael Anderson
Chief of Driver Services
Texas Department of Public Safety
AAMVA Driver Licensing & Control Committee
on behalf of the
American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators
Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims
Committee on the Judiciary
U.S. House of Representatives
July 22, 1999
Good Morning Mr. Chairman. My name is Michael Anderson. I serve as Chief of Driver Services for the Texas Department of Public Safety and as International Chairman of the Driver Licensing and Control Committee of the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA).
AAMVA is an international association whose members are the chief motor vehicle and law enforcement administrators in the United States and Canada. We are responsible for administering the laws covering the motor vehicle and its use throughout North America. We are at the forefront of many national highway and traffic safety issues that affect our country today, including identification and document fraud.
AAMVA is no stranger to the identification and fraudulent document issues that are prevalent throughout North America today. The use of fraudulent documents results in enormous economic loses in the United States and Canada through bank, employment, welfare and retail fraud--even drug smuggling and money laundering. However, the use of fraudulently obtained identification also is directly related to losses in human life on our highways.
Obtaining a driver's license through fraudulent means, allows an individual to continue to drive in many instances when she or he should not be on the road, thus circumventing the system. Persons who fraudulently apply for or who possess a fictitious driver's license or identification card often use the document to illegally purchase alcohol and firearms, make illegal welfare applications, drive while suspended or revoked or pursue a variety of other unlawful acts. Economically, the use of fraudulently obtained drivers' licenses or illegal identification cards is estimated to cost society tens of billions of dollars per year.
In this age of "uniformity" within our Association, the Driver Licensing and Control Committee is striving to develop uniform guidelines across the entire spectrum of driving licensing activities: from identification, to testing, to screening and evaluation, to driver improvement. The foundation for work on identification standards relates directly to our desire:
To enhance and promote the one-license, one driver control record concept,
To protect jurisdictions from increasing emphasis on the legal obligations to detect and deny the issuance of fraudulent licenses, and
To provide customers, individuals, businesses and government with products that achieve the quality levels currently expected, but not uniformly justified, by present security and control measures.
The driver's license is universally accepted to verify a person's identity. Virtually everyone considers the driver's license as a legal and authentic document. If a person presents a driver's license or ID card which indicates his name is Joe Smith with a date of birth of July 19, 1950, the clerk at the grocery store, the person selling a hunting or fishing permit, the law enforcement officer making a traffic stop, the employer reviewing a job application, or the person approving a gun permit, holds that document to be legal and trusts the information therein to be correct.
The check approval, job offer or traffic ticket is made based on the fact that the person believes the license or ID card holder to be the person identified on the face of the document. To that end, it is the responsibility of the licensing agency to ensure the document is issued to an applicant who first submits documentation which satisfactorily verifies his or her identity. The agency should follow strict guidelines in reviewing identification documents to ensure authenticity. We believe severe penalties should be in place for any individual who presents false or fraudulent documentation or who misrepresents him or herself in an application for a driver's license or ID card.
AAMVA has been and is currently involved in a number of programs that address these issues. The first is The Uniform Identification Practices Model Program for motor vehicle agencies in the United States and Canada. This effort began in March 1994 and culminated with the publication of a guideline document in May 1996. In order to keep the document current, we will review and revise it periodically with the first review coming in Fiscal Year 2000.
The model program recommends identical identification standards be followed for both driver license and identification card applicants. The program encompasses a number of aspects and contains minimum standards that are understandable and reasonable to implement by all driver licensing agencies, thus encouraging our jurisdictions to adopt the program.
Aspects of the Model Program include:
Driver License/ID Card Issuance
Social Security Number Collection and Verification
Renewal and Duplicate Applications
Immigration and Naturalization Services Access
Name Change Verification
Minor Licenses/ID Cards/Learner Permits
Electronic Exchange of Images
Document Verification and Fraud Detection
Sanctions for Fraudulent Driver License and ID Card Application
Information to be Present on the Driver License/ID Card
We have provided a copy of the model program as a part of the record.
The next program deals with document verification and fraud detection. To deal with this issue, AAMVA has developed and implemented The Fraudulent Identification Prevention Program (FIPP). This program assists jurisdictions in training field staff to detect fraudulent documents.
A key to curbing fraudulent identification lies in the detection of fraudulent documents and in verifying a person's identity prior to issuing a driver's license or identification card. Only when field staff are fully trained to detect fraudulent documents and only when automated verification of documents is a reality, can fraudulent applications be truly minimized.
Unfortunately, fraudulent applications will never be totally eliminated, but "would-be" fraudulent ID holders certainly can be discouraged with the implementation of stricter issuance procedures. Many documents contain hidden verifiers whose presence or absence can be detected with proper training.
Working in conjunction with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the U.S. Secret Service, AAMVA has conducted over 30 "Train-the-Trainer" sessions throughout North America--training in excess of 500 key motor vehicle agency officials in all 51 U.S. jurisdictions and 5 Canadian provinces. We are currently working to update the training program and plan to conduct more sessions during the next fiscal year.
The last program deals with the information contained on the driver's license and ID card documents as well as the technologies used.
AAMVA and representatives of our Industry Advisory Board are participating in an American National Standard Institute project to develop a U.S. standard for driver licenses and identification cards that deals with both the information contained on the documents as well as the technologies that are utilized.
Work on this standard began in 1997, and is currently in its final stages. The development involved broad-based project teams including State driver license agencies, government, equipment and software suppliers, card vendors and consultants.
The objectives of the standards being developed are the following:
To uniquely identify the card issuer and cardholder;
To bring uniformity to the millions of driver license cards now in circulation;
To encourage transition from existing practice to the new standard;
To assist administrative efficiency and accuracy through machine-readable identification within a foundation that encourages future applications; and
To facilitate future development in technology and application.
We are also involved with the International Standards Organization (ISO) to develop a worldwide standard for the driver's license and identification cards. This effort began in June of this year.
Mr. Chairman, I thank you for the opportunity to testify this morning to share some of AAMVA's efforts to address fraudulent document and identification issues that have a direct economic impact as well as an impact on highway and traffic safety throughout our country.