Monday, February 02, 2009

Um, Say Again? *Updated with further thoughts after a modicum of caffiene*

Okay, it is Monday morning and I'm undercaffienated, but please explain to me this logic:
[U]nder new procedures coming this year, Iowa drivers will wait up to 10 days after renewal to receive a new license card in the mail.

The new renewal process, expected to start as soon as this summer, is aimed at improving security, Iowa transportation officials say.

"It's a mechanism we're using to help ensure our process does not lend itself to identity theft," said Shirley Andre, director of the Iowa Department of Motor Vehicles.

It takes awhile to get all my cylindars firing, but I'm pretty sure that the stated reason for this change - it prevents identity theft - makes little sense. Sure, you might be closing one loophole, wherein someone who illegally acquired a driver's license, or forged a bunch of other id, and happens to look just like the person could theoretically have come into the station and demanded a new one. Now it would be mailed to the old address instead. But what are we really changing?

1) How often do people who illegally acquire licenses actually fit the stats of the person whose license they acquire sufficiently to pass the security involved with going in and getting the license changed? In other words, this is not generally a crime of opportunity - I'd imagine there's planning involved. Planning connotes a capability of circumventing the little "oops, it's going to be mailed to me?" idea.

2) Doesn't subjecting the license to the mail, rather than handing it to the individual involved, create a greater risk that the license will be illegally 'acquired' in the first place by someone simply stealing it from the mailbox?

3) Does this really solve the problem? I mean, I presume there will still be a mechanism for changing our address on the license, unless the powers that be intend that we never, ever move again. As they've not mentioned any changes to this process, I further presume it will be similar to the one in place now - bring in a utility bill or something showing where you live now. Okay, if I'm someone whose going to go to the trouble to have an illegally acquired license/id and actually take it on as my own by changing the address to mine, is it really that hard for me to forge a utility bill? I'm thinking not so much. Give me a color scanner and ten minutes' time and I'm pretty sure I could have a passable phone or electric bill for you.

Given this, will someone please try to explain to me why we're doing this again? Particularly given that this will increase costs:
An average of 850,000 driver's licenses are issued by the Iowa DOT per year and with the increased cost per card, the state will be paying an estimated $120,000 more per year, she said.

Of course, they "think" it might lower costs in the end by having a central processing area. Pretty sure they won't then drop the fees for the license, though, if that does turn out to be the case.

I realize that the DOT has unilaterally decided this under the administrative rules, but I'm wondering if we can't bring some pressure to bear on this subject? I, for one, would rather drive to freaking Des Moines to physically acquire a new license than to have one mailed to me.

If anyone4 can think of a reason why this would be a good idea, please leave it in the comments. My still-tired brain thanks you.

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