Q: Mva said I can't renew my license without REAL ID. To me MD 16-122 says something different. Can you please clarify?

I have spoken with different people at MVA and no one can can give me a straight answer. I have told them repeatedly that 16-122 (ii) that states I am eligible for a Federally Non-Compliant drivers license. A contact told me RUDELY to look at case law Motor Vehicle Administration v. Geppert. That case doesn't apply to REAL ID. I would like to speak with an attorney and see if I have a case against MVA . I have messaged the MD Secretary of Transportation office twice with no response.

Another person said that a non compliant license is only available to immigrants. I don't wish to provide all the extra paperwork to obtain a REAL ID and I'm not interested in flying or accessing a nuclear power plant or a federally controlled facility. I have read the Real ID act and it says that states are allowed to offer a drivers license without the REAL ID verification. I'm aware of other states that will allow this. DHS doesnt require it. So is it just MD?

Thank you

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Traffic Tickets Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: Based on the information you've provided, it seems there is some confusion and inconsistency in how the Maryland Vehicle Administration (MVA) is interpreting and applying the Real ID Act and relevant Maryland statutes. Let me try to clarify a few key points:

1. The federal REAL ID Act does allow states to issue both REAL ID compliant and non-compliant driver's licenses and IDs. States are not required to only issue REAL ID licenses.

2. Maryland Transportation Code § 16-122(a)(1)(ii) states that the MVA shall issue a license without REAL ID verification to an applicant who "certifies that the applicant has no lawful status in the United States and is ineligible for a Social Security number." This seems to allow non-REAL ID licenses for certain immigrants.

3. However, the statute does not appear to explicitly require or allow the MVA to issue non-REAL ID licenses to U.S. citizens or others who don't want a REAL ID. The Geppert case you mentioned dealt with older ID requirements and likely isn't directly applicable to the REAL ID situation.

4. Ultimately, it may come down to how the MVA has chosen to implement the REAL ID Act in their policies and procedures. If they have decided as an agency to only issue REAL IDs to citizens and lawful residents, that may be within their authority even if not explicitly mandated by law.

My recommendation would be to consult with a licensed Maryland attorney who specializes in administrative law and DMV/MVA issues. They can review the relevant statutes and MVA policies in detail and advise you on your options, including any potential legal recourse.

You may also want to reach out to your state legislators about this issue. If the MVA's REAL ID practices seem to go beyond what is required by law, legislative oversight or a statutory amendment could potentially address it.

I hope this helps provide some clarity on a complex and seemingly inconsistent situation.

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