Florida's new driver license requirements
Got a Post Office Box as a mailing address? Before you obtain or renew your Florida Driver's License, read this topic before you go!
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We have heard about REAL ID for a few years and the Federal government's role in implementing REAL ID. It is here in Florida as of 1 January 2010 and it's going to mean different, if not difficult, ways in obtaining or renewing your Florida Drivers License. The new rules are supposed to enhance security of identity documents such as drivers licenses.
Now here's the lowdown on what to expect when you go to obtain or renew your Florida drivers license. Here's what you are going to have to bring with you when you go to the drivers license office to obtain or renew your license:
NOTE: The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (as of 2012) is transitioning the issuance of driver licenses from the state owned driver license offices to the county tax collector. After all, it it the county tax collector that issues your vehicle registration and license plates, so what the State of Florida is doing is making both driver license and vehicle registration a one stop shop.
1. Primary identification: A certified US birth certificate, a US Passport or a US Passport Card. For US citizens born outside the United States you will need the Consular Report of Birth Abroad (issued by the US Department of State) and it has to be a certified copy; however, if you have a US Passport that's better as it is absolute proof of United States citizenship. (After all, passports and passport cards are easier to replace than birth certificates if they get lost for some reason).
If you were born in Florida and need a copy of your birth certificate,
follow this link to the Vital Statistics Office at the Florida Department of Health.
If you were born outside of Florida but elsewhere and need a copy of your birth certificate,
follow this link to the US CDC's Where to Write for Vital Records page.
For USA passport information, see the US State Department's passport site.
2. Social Security Number: You will want to bring your original Social Security card; that's the best.
If you need a replacement Social Security card, follow this link to the Social Security Administration.
3. Two proofs of Florida residential address: The State of Florida wants proof that you actually live here in the Sunshine State to get or renew a Florida drivers license. Here is a partial list of the documents you will need to prove Florida residency according to the folks over at the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles at their specialty site, GatherGoGet.com:
Residential deed or monthly mortgage statement
You can obtain an unofficial copy of your deed at your county's Clerk of the Circuit Court; for Pinellas County click here
Florida Voter ID card (this is your Voter Information card)
Need a duplicate voter information card? You can get one at your county's Supervisor of Elections; for Pinellas County click here
Florida vehicle registration or title
A utility connection order (60 days old or less)
Homeowners, condo unit owners or renters insurance policy or bill
A utility bill 60 days old or less
Now what if you are living with someone else such as your parents? They will have to accompany you to the drivers license office, provide a statement and provide proof of residence address as shown above. If you are living in a transitional shelter a letter from the shelter verifying that you live there is required.
OK. Now that you have your required documents, you can proceed to the nearest Florida drivers license office and obtain or renew your drivers license. Or, you can renew online if you qualify for the one time renewal option.
Disclaimer for this page: Links to government offices described above are provided as a public service of your webmaster to assist you in gathering the information you need to get or renew your Florida Driver's License.
For those of you Floridians out there that have a residential street address but receive all of your mail at a post office box, you need to read this section. What follows is very important, especially if you value and protect your privacy.
Now when you receive your Florida drivers license, it will have, among other things as required by the federal REAL ID law, your residential street address printed on your license. A residential street address?
Invasion of privacy? What's going on here?
In my opinion, Florida's new drivers license requirements in the name of REAL ID is very dangerous. Why? There are a lot of Floridians like myself who have a residential street address but have all mail sent to a post office box for security reasons. Florida's new requirement that took effect on 1 January 2010 will require that the residential street address be listed on the drivers license.
What makes this so dangerous is that if let's say someone obtains a restraining order against a domestic violence perpetrator or a stalker and the person who obtained the restraining order somehow loses his or her drivers license with the residential street address on it. Bingo! The domestic violence perpetrator who is not supposed to even come within 500 feet of the street address now knows where you live! Furthermore, Florida's residential street address requirement for drivers licenses will also make it very easy for stalkers to find you - if somehow you lose your drivers license and the stalker finds it then - voila - it's a gold mine!
Our Florida drivers licenses are slowly being turned into national identity cards thanks to REAL ID. Whoa? A national identity card? This is totally unheard of in America!
In practically all European countries, a national identity card is not an option - instead, it is the law. Even carrying your national identity card is mandatory if you are out and about; a police officer can even stop you for the purpose of checking your identification. If you are caught without your national identity card, either the police officer will follow you home if you left it there or you can be taken into custody while your identity is determined. After all, this is life in a country which has a national identification card system.
Now there's a meaning to the phrase "your papers, please".
On the other hand, I believe in the notion that a drivers license is simply that - a license by the State of Florida or your home state to operate a motor vehicle and nothing more. After all, driving is a privilege and not a right - did we learn this in driver's education school? (Emphasis added)
A residential street address on a voter ID card is fine, as it proves where you live and what polling place you have to go to. On a drivers license, it is a different matter as it is used as a primary identification card; I do have a residential street address but all my mail goes to a post office box for security reasons. Presenting it to a law enforcement officer (especially if you get pulled over) is very important; you're supposed to carry your drivers license with you when you are operating your motor vehicle in the very first place. On the other hand, presenting a drivers license with where you physically live to a total stranger for identification - such as to a sales clerk in a retail store - opens up Pandora's Box to unwanted invasion of your personal privacy; that's why so many Floridians such as me have a post office box for privacy and security reasons.
In other words, to law enforcement is one thing, while to private businesses such as retail stores, my knowing where I live is none of your business.
Moreover, despite the security precautions taken by Tallahassee to safeguard the data on Florida's drivers licenses, leaks of personal data have occurred. Moreover, the State of Florida has a habit of selling your name and residential street address information that is on your drivers license to third parties despite a Federal law - the Driver's Privacy Protection Act of 1994, long enacted before REAL ID - that provides for confidentiality of driver license information. Here is a link to a post I found on the FlyerTalk.com forum which addresses this subject very well.
Until recently, you could get a Florida drivers license, prove your residential street address, and have your license with your mailing address on it. That has changed thanks to REAL ID. The only exception to this new rule is only law enforcement officers. But what about people who are entitled to have their residential street addresses in Florida confidential? And what about people who have restraining orders against domestic violence perpetrators or stalkers?
In a nutshell, I agree with making identity documents such as a drivers license more secure but I do not believe in trading privacy for security. This is something our federal and Florida lawmakers need to address.
The Federal REAL ID law has placed an extreme burden on the states in upgrading their driver licensing standards. Furthermore, REAL ID violates states' rights as driver licensing is the power of each of the fifty states, much like the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002 which mandates testing such as the FCAT in Florida.
Either REAL ID should be repealed in its entirety or at least amend its provisions to allow people who have mailing addresses to keep them on their drivers licenses. Besides, a law enforcement officer can find out where you live within the matter of a few seconds when the officer runs your drivers license through the computer. That's how it should be.
Besides, where was the United States Congress when it enacted the federal REAL ID law as far as people who have Injunctions for Protection (restraining orders) against stalkers or domestic violence perpetrators? And where was the Florida Legislature when it enacted the needed changes to Florida's driver license laws in order to make the State of Florida REAL ID compliant: Did our legislators forget people who have Injunctions for Protection against stalkers and domestic violence perpetrators as well?
True yet transparent safeguards should be in place to make sure that driver license data does not fall into the wrong hands. These safeguards should be held accountable in order to keep the public's faith and confidence in government.
First, and foremost, guard that Florida driver license with your life. NEVER hand your Florida driver license over to a retail store clerk for anything; the only exception is if you are purchasing alcoholic beverages or tobacco products, as these items are age restricted by Florida law.
The only time you show your Florida driver license is in the event you are pulled over by a law enforcement officer as part of a traffic stop. After all, you are legally required to have that driver license in your possession at all times when you are operating a motor vehicle. The other time that you must show your Florida driver license is if you are renting a car from a car rental agency such as Alamo or Dollar; it is illegal for any car rental agency in Florida to rent a car to anyone who either does not have a valid driver license or if one's driver license is suspended or revoked.
If the time comes when you are advised to consider giving up driving, surrender your Florida driver license. If the examiner at the driver license office asks you if you want a Florida non-driver identification card, say "no thanks". Instead, get a U.S. Passport Card, which costs only $30 (as of 2012) and is good for ten (10) years. Even better, a U.S. Passport Card meets REAL ID requirements for boarding domestic flights within the United States as well as entering federal facilities and your street address information is not shown; if you move out of state you don't have to spend half a day at your new state's DMV to get a new state non-driver identification card.