News & Resources

California residents suffer long delays to acquire ID cards

Mar 28, 2011 Brian Bradley

California residents attempting to file for new or renewed identification cards are enduring long delays throughout the state, according to the San Jose Mercury News. Currently, the state is trying to roll out new, high-tech identity cards with enhanced features that will make them harder to counterfeit. Unfortunately, that technology has been a significant source of the delays. The new cards were introduced in October, but applicant backlog has since reached 850,000, the Mercury News reports. The new cards were supposed to ease identity theft concerns in the state and provide for simpler identity verification practices. The new licenses possess hidden photos only visible under ultraviolet light, as well as laser-engraved signatures and tiny perforations that take the shape of a bear. However, all those features have stalled the state's ability to meet the demands of roughly 40,000 new applicants per day. State lawmakers have criticized the Department of Motor Vehicles' handling of the new cards. "We've heard about people standing in line an hour at DMV offices, then hearing: 'Sorry, can't help you,'" state Senator Joe Simitian told the Sacramento Bee. "You pay your money and expect to get a product on a timely basis. DMV has come up well short of that." The DMV signed a five-year, $63 million contract with Massachusetts-based L-1 Identity Solutions to provide the new ID cards. In addition to the state's inability to churn out the new cards, DMV director George Valverde told the Mercury News that the department has yet to make any payments to L-1 due to changes in its production line. Valverde told the paper that there have been three million new cards issued to date. Nevertheless, the backlog and delay could have wide-ranging ramifications in the state. Most notably, residents and law enforcement officials are equally concerned that there could be confusion and unnecessary punishments doled out because of the backlog, including during traffic stops and at airports. In response, the state DMV has issued 90-day temporary licenses to residents currently in the backlog to help alleviate identity verification concerns. However, even that process has stalled, with many residents waiting at least six weeks to receive their temporary licenses, the Sacramento Bee reports. L-1 officials have sent a letter to the DMV stating that the "root cause" of the slow rollout will take time to solve.