Abby Smith fills out a drivers license renewal form July 25 at the county Department of Finance Motor Vehicle office at the West Hawaii Civic Center in Kailua-Kona. (Laura Shimabuku/Special to West Hawaii Today)
A table is set up outside of the Department of Finance Motor Vehicle office with drivers license renewal forms and requirements on July 25 at the West Hawaii Civic Center in Kailua-Kona. (Laura Shimabuku/Special to West Hawaii Today)
A drivers license application is filled out at the Department of Finance Motor Vehicle office at the West Hawaii Civic Center in Kailua-Kona. (Laura Shimabuku/Special to West Hawaii Today)
Nearly five months have passed since new rules pertaining to driver’s licensing took effect. But some people still have questions regarding the array of required documents needed to prove their identity and legal presence in the country.
Federal and state mandates now prohibit the issuance of a driver’s license or learner’s permit to anyone who is not legally authorized to be in the United States, said Naomi U.P. O’Dell, supervising driver’s license examiner for the county Department of Finance Vehicle Registration and Licensing Division.
It’s part of a move for a national ID card and a component of the federally mandated REAL ID Act of 2005. Only seven states don’t require the same documents as Hawaii and elsewhere, but this will change by the year’s end. The requirements are also part of a 2010 state law, and publicity about the rules started as early as November, said Division Manager Lee Lord.
Those applying for or renewing a Hawaii driver’s license or learner’s permit must now provide proof of identity, date of birth, Social Security Number and legal presence. Proof of an individual’s legal presence includes a U.S. birth certificate, U.S. passport or other documents, O’Dell said.
During a meeting Thursday at West Hawaii Civic Center, O’Dell and Lord explained the requirements and answered questions in an attempt to help reduce the wait time and ensure everyone possesses the correct documents. Fifteen people attended.
No one expressed anger, frustration or hardship about the rules or process. However, a few inquired about what happens in situations when names don’t match on documents, such as first and middle names being reversed or a middle name being included in one document, but not the others. A couple of attendees wanted to know if the division would accept original territorial birth certificates and Medicare Part A identification cards (The answer is yes).
For a U.S. citizen whose name is the same on his birth certificate and license, all that’s needed is an original birth certificate and a Social Security card. If a name change is involved, whether through marriage, divorce or other legal process, or a license carries a different name than a birth certificate, an applicant needs to provide proof of name progression. Such proof is not required when seeking a duplicate license, O’Dell said.
Another way to renew or apply is to possess a license, Social Security card and U.S. passport all with the same name, Lord said.
The fact that only 15 people showed up Thursday meant one thing to Lord: the outreach by the division is working. Approximately 40 people attended last month’s meeting. Despite the small turnout, Lord said his division will continue to hold monthly meetings in Kona until no one shows up.
Detailed information about the requirements, as well as answers to frequently asked questions and links to where to obtain documents, were passed out Thursday. That same information is also available online at hawaiicounty.gov/finance-dl-hi-legal-presence — a website that’s continually updated. Questions may also be emailed to email@example.com, Lord said.
Each month, roughly 2,000 driver’s licenses are issued islandwide, and people can begin the process of renewal as early as six months before the expiration date. Thursday was the first day at work for the newly hired greeter, who’s responsible for answering questions of visitors to the Drivers Licensing Office at the West Hawaii Civic Center, but can’t authenticate or inspect documents. Starting Monday, another greeter will be present at the Hilo office, Lord said.