South Carolina and the federal Real ID law


Recent editorials from South Carolina newspapers:

The Aiken Standard

March 28

South Carolina and the federal Real ID law

State lawmakers are racing to bring South Carolina into compliance with the federal Real ID law so state residents won't suddenly be barred from entering federal buildings or traveling on airplanes.

While we remain confident the S.C. General Assembly will rectify this thorny situation, it's one we shouldn't be facing.

Passed in 2005, Real ID's origins are loosely connected to the 9/11 terror attacks. Recommended by the 9/11 Commission, the law "set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver's licenses," according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Real ID establishes minimum security standards for identification cards, standards South Carolina doesn't meet.

While fighting terrorism is noteworthy, South Carolina's slowness to bring the state into compliance with Real ID potentially impacts millions of the state's residents. Without a passport or military ID, South Carolina driver's licenses will be insufficient identification to access areas with heightened security.

Entry into military bases would be similarly restricted. In a more practical sense, residents lacking proper IDs would be prohibited from boarding a plane or entering a federal building, including federal courthouses.

Though lethargic in addressing this quandary, South Carolina lawmakers made the right move by not forcing all residents to get new IDs.

House Bill 3358 makes compliance voluntary, which distinguishes it from Georgia, which made Real ID compliance mandatory. S.C. state lawmakers say mandatory compliance created many headaches for Georgians. Voluntary compliance, they say, increases flexibility for residents. We agree.

Voluntary compliance will help limit the mob scenes we anticipate at local departments of motor vehicles as drivers race to update their licenses.

Some people may simply have no business to conduct in a federal building. Not everyone has a flight coming up, either, thus negating the need for Real ID. These folks shouldn't have to wait in unbearably long DMV lines if they don't want to.

It's important to note that not having a Real ID will not impede a person's right to drive an automobile or vote in elections. This is a security measure designed to beef up security at facilities terrorists might see as tempting targets.

There's more good news - passage of the Real ID bill is right around the corner. Versions of it passed by overwhelming majorities in the S.C. House (100-3) and Senate (40-0). The bill in its current form has been returned to the House with amendments, according to the House website.

South Carolina was recently granted an extension to reach compliance, which must occur by June 6. While we're not pleased this matter is taking up valuable time now when it could've been handled years earlier, we are pleased that South Carolina is on the cusp of bringing residents into compliance.



The Times and Democrat

March 24

Getting out the

message against DUI

South Carolina's highway death toll was nearing 200 as spring began Monday. That is near the same toll as this time a year ago.

The weekend brings festivities associated with spring. The crowd will be large at the annual Elloree Trials. As with all such events, there will be plenty of law enforcement presence with an eye toward ensuring that impaired driving does not produce tragedy.

Strict enforcement of driving-under-the-influence laws is necessary in Elloree and throughout the state, which national statistics show is among the worst in the nation for highway deaths related to DUI. Though the rate of deaths associated with DUI has declined, it has been above 40 percent as recently as 2013.

As important as enforcement is in battling DUI, education is also vital. People simply must know and accept there is too much risk - of death and injury, and of being arrested - involved to engage in such behavior.

The Tri-County Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse has a new tool to aid Orangeburg County law enforcement in educating the community and enforcing impaired driving laws.

In January, the TCCADA purchased a portable electronic sign with funds from the Empowering Communities for Healthier Outcomes grant. The grant was awarded to the TCCADA to lower the county's DUI crash rates.

The grant was awarded for a five-year period.

"Orangeburg County is so rural that we are limited in our media outlets. We had to get creative in getting the message out about DUI's and DUI enforcement happening within Orangeburg County."

The electronic sign will be used this weekend in Elloree during the Elloree Trials.

After the event, the portable sign will be moved to other parts of the county to be used in conjunction with local towns during alcohol-enforcement activities.

"The TCCADA hopes in the future to purchase an additional electronic portable sign," Ackiss said. "Because of the sheer size of Orangeburg County, we are hoping to purchase another sign that can be used on the other side of Orangeburg County."

If the signs serve to dissuade people from driving while impaired, it's hard to call them anything but a good investment.