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december 2012

Benefits of State to State? Better information-sharing and fraud protection



Building a Bridge to International Communication

Connecting states and improving their communication will be the spark that ignites these advancements. As this spark turns into a national wildfire of communication, states will be sharing information and communicating with each other on a daily basis. Adding on to the list of benefits offered by S2S, an increased domestic communication could eventually lay a foundation to connect with foreign partners overseas. S2S may build a bridge to help us better communicate with countries around the world.

Working with countries overseas is by no means a new concept. Some states currently share bilateral agreements with countries such as France and Germany. These agreements allow participating states to accept licenses from a few European countries. Let’s say a French national is visiting a participating state and plans to work and live there for an extended period of time. Chances are he or she will need a state ID to get around town, travel and work. With a bilateral agreement, this participating state can connect with France and identify the legitimacy of the driver in order to issue an ID or license. This not only creates communication between states and foreign countries, but it also establishes a safe process that benefits homeland security.

Bilateral agreements work well for the handful of states that participate, and do provide an added level of security. These agreements, however, do not extend to all states and other countries in the European Union or around the world. When implemented throughout the nation, S2S has a chance to one day change the way every state can and will communicate with other countries, all while increasing and tightening our homeland security.

Let’s go back to the French national living and working in the U.S. What if he or she is not originally from France and has records from various countries? This person has traveled from country to country in Europe and now settles somewhere in the U.S. S2S will allow this jurisdiction to verify the status and history of that French license. Where did he or she have a license before moving to France? Not only is this information vital to keeping one record with one license, but it will also provide important information to the Department of Homeland Security.

By increasing communication and building a bridge with countries overseas, S2S will lay the ground work on improving our partnerships with countries around the world, all while improving our national security here at home.

From Security to Safety—S2S Has Many Safety Benefits

The development of the State to State driver’s license verification service will provide: 1) state driver licensing agencies with a new tool to combat driver license and state identification card fraud; 2) communication across jurisdictions and throughout the issuance processes; and 3) significant enhancements to driver license and identification card security when fully implemented. In addition, it would appear that it could have potential safety benefits with a system that makes it more difficult for drivers to obtain licenses in multiple jurisdictions.

The new S2S service will be using the same system platform as the Commercial Driver’s License System (CDLIS), which has proven to be effective in preventing commercial drivers from holding multiple licenses in multiple jurisdictions. Using the new S2S service will allow a state to electronically check with all other states to determine if an applicant holds an existing license or state identification card anywhere else within the United States.

Highway safety professionals have long recognized that one of the challenges in preventing or reducing traffic crashes is to target problem drivers. These drivers are not only those problem drivers that are suspended or revoked, but are drivers with significant crash and traffic violation conviction history on their driving records. Many of these drivers continue to use the method of obtaining a new driver’s license in another jurisdiction just before they are about to have their license suspended or revoked because of an accumulation of points or other potential issues in their current jurisdiction. It is the driver’s license shell game.

Both the National Driver Register (NDR) and the Problem Driver Pointer System (PDPS) are primarily used to prevent someone with a suspended or revoked driver’s license from obtaining a driver’s license in another state, until they have resolved that suspension or revocation issue. While the PDPS check is intended to make it harder for a person to obtain more than one driver’s license at any one time, it is still not uncommon to find problem drivers still holding licenses in multiple jurisdictions.

The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) has worked hard to emphasize the need for a comprehensive traffic records system to be able to conduct effective highway safety problem identification and evaluation. The GHSA was able to engage Congress in identifying Traffic Records as a highway safety emphasis area and making funding available to the states to improve their traffic records systems. The addition of the S2S service is an important contribution to all states to enhance their own individual comprehensive traffic records system.

A driver’s record should follow a person wherever he or she moves. Individuals should not be able to start fresh with a new, clean driver record history by moving from one jurisdiction to another. Only if there are serious consequences that result from repeated unsafe driver behavior are we likely to be able to change that behavior. The S2S service will provide some assurance that complete histories can be tracked for each individual from state to state.

It has always been recognized that the ideal highway safety system should include a “one driver, one license” system in the U.S. There have been multiple efforts to reach this goal with the initial establishments of the Driver’s License Compact and NDR. More recent additions include CDLIS, PDPS and the Real ID Act. But the S2S Driver Identification Verification Service makes the “one driver, one license” system a reality for the AAMVA community. Full implementation of this service will put to an end the driver’s license shell game, and ultimately contribute to safer roadways for everyone.

Maryland’s State to State Program

The development of the State to State service is an important step forward in achieving the long-held goal of one driver, one license. The S2S service will allow a state to verify with other jurisdictions if an individual applying for a new product has a valid driver’s license or identification card issued in another jurisdiction. The system is being built to run jointly with the existing CDLIS to make the implementation process easier for jurisdictions.

Over the last several years all states have made significant progress in enhancing the security of their driver’s license. Maryland is very proud of the steps we have taken to enhance the security of our driver’s license issuance process as one of the states that has submitted a Real ID full compliance package to DHS. Many of the enhancements Maryland has made include the adoption of electronic verification systems like SSOLV, VLS and U.S. Passport Verification Service.

The development of these electronic systems has been facilitated by DIVS, a not-for-profit corporation formed by the State of Mississippi to organize, implement and coordinate the electronic systems needed to verify information provided as part of the driver’s license issuance process. Participation in DIVS provides an important opportunity for states to directly impact the development and enhancement of these electronic verification systems. All states are welcome to join DIVS because greater participation ensures that the systems developed will meet the needs of your agency and residents going forward.

Maryland has also agreed to participate as a pilot jurisdiction in implementing the S2S service. The S2S Pilot Working Group through DIVS will oversee the technical design of the system and development of privacy and security plans, create a state procedure manual, and define pilot evaluation criteria for participating states. In addition, a S2S Governance Working Group was created with representation from the DIVS Executive Committee, DHS, FMCSA and the AAMVA Board of Directors and the CDLIS Modernization Working Group to develop the long-term governance and cost model for S2S.

Implementation of the S2S service is completely voluntary and does not commit a state to be in compliance with the Real ID Act. However, for states who are working towards compliance, S2S can be an important part of your plan to ensure the applicant does not have more than one driver’s license or identification card already issued in another jurisdiction.

The currently available electronic verification systems provide important security enhancements, but we recognize there are still weaknesses. The S2S service, once fully implemented, will give us the ability to detect when an individual is attempting to obtain multiple products under the same identity as well as help to detect cases of identity theft. The service requirements include the ability to inform states when an individual’s information has been used in a search multiple times within a given period. This feature will be helpful if someone is trying to obtain a product in multiple locations within a state or in different states within a short period of time. As we all work to prevent fraud and ensure that the driver’s license or identification card we are issuing is to the correct person, S2S is an important tool in helping states to address these issues.