Making things safer usually results in some inconvenience. Sometimes it’s a small annoyance, like having to go though a one-person security door at some banks and other times it can be a real hassle. A lot of people, especially those who have come to Delaware from another state, feel that way about the new driver’s license rules going into effect here and around the country.


Finding the right balance between security and easing the hassles in getting through the business of daily living is always tough.

Making things safer usually results in some inconvenience. Sometimes it’s a small annoyance, like having to go though a one-person security door at some banks and other times it can be a real hassle.

A lot of people, especially those who have come to Delaware from another state, feel that way about the new driver’s license rules going into effect here and around the country.

Getting some of the required documentation, like an official birth certificate or marriage license, will take time, when you have to get it from another state.
The new law has been in effect since July but mostly the only people who have noticed so far have been those who have had to renew their licenses.

However, everyone will need a U.S. passport, federally compliant license or ID card by December 2014 in order to take a plane or train in the United States or to get into federal buildings. Passports are good to have, but the driver’s license or state ID card is a much more economical option.

The documentation required includes:
• An official birth certificate or a valid passport or immigration documents.
• Social Security Card or letter from the Social Security Administration containing your Social Security number.
• Two proofs of you Delaware residence including that include the applicant’s name and address, such as utility or cable bills, credit card bills or voter registration cards.
• Legal name change documents, such as official marriage licenses, divorce decrees or a court order for a legal name change.

In addition, I helped change state law to make licenses for people in this country on student visas or green cards last only for the length of the visa or green card.
Showing the papers to get a license is a one-time event. Renewing an official license will work the way license renewals have always worked.

The new license is not a national ID card. Every state is allowed to develop its own license within federal guidelines. While some things, like positive proof of identity, will be required everywhere, states have leeway to develop their own standards for some elements. Nor does it create some 1984-like national database of personal information or tracking chips, and even though you can use it to get on a domestic flight, it does not replace your U.S. passport.

And, the new licenses have enhanced security features that will make them harder than ever to fake. All this is aimed at curbing the kind of lax security that allowed the hijackers on 9-11 to get their airline tickets with comparative ease.

None of this is a guarantee that determined people will be kept from hijacking a plane and doing something unspeakable. But it will make it harder and that sometimes can be a deterrent that keeps us safer which we all hope makes it worth the hassle.

State Sen. Bruce Ennis is a Democrat representing the 14th Senatorial District, which includes all or parts of Smyrna, Clayton, Middletown, Odessa, Townsend, Delaware City, Cheswold, Dover, and Leipsic.