The Real ID Act of 2005

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) is working toward compliance with the Federal Real ID Act and the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) now issues driver’s licenses which are Real ID Act Compliant.

These new secure driver’s licenses will be required for entry into federal buildings and to board domestic fights. However, individuals who have a valid U.S. passport or passport card can use those documents to prove their identities instead of a driver’s license.

The Real ID Act of 2005 was passed to protect against terrorism and it requires motor vehicle departments across the country to meet new security requirements regarding the issuance of official identification cards and driver’s licenses. These new credentials have both public and secret security features to resist counterfeiting, identity theft, license fraud, and illegal duplication. Massachusetts residents will have until October of 2020 to obtain Real ID Act Compliant Driver’s Licenses. Pursuant to an extension granted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, current MA driver’s licenses can be used until the deadline.

The current Massachusetts RMV Policy is that no driver’s license of any type may be issued or granted to a person who is not lawfully present in the United States. The Registry enforces this policy by requiring that driver’s license applicants have at least an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) for a Class D license and a Permanent Resident ID or “green card” for a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License).

With the nationwide implementation of the Real ID Act, the Registry will likely be discovering and investigating additional cases of license fraud, which can result in criminal prosecution pursuant to G.L. c. 90 § 24B and mandatory license revocations.

Anyone who receives a letter from the Mass. RMV regarding license fraud is entitled to legal representation at any Registry Hearing, including those hearings conducted at the Special Investigation Unit / Enforcement Services Department of the Registry of Motor Vehicles, which is located at 25 Stuart Street in Boston. This unit is staffed with highly trained State Troopers and other personnel who investigate identity theft and license fraud cases. This is the only location were license fraud hearings are conducted in Massachusetts.