Notice: I've taken a part-time job, and it's definitely affecting my blogging time. I'll continue to add content here as often as possible. Pertinent guest posts are always welcome.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Enhanced Driver's Licenses

Michigan Sample enhanced driver's license
Michigan Sample enhanced driver's license (from Michigan Secretary of State)
compiled from several sources

Michigan has just announced that they will offer an Enhanced Driver's License (EDL), joining New York which has been offering a similar license for several months. These licenses will allow residents of those states to enter Canada and return, by land or water, without a passport. Beginning June 1, 2009, it will no longer be sufficient to present a regular driver's license and a birth certificate.

For people who regularly travel from Michigan to New York this is great news, since the fastest way to make this trip is through Ontario, Canada. People who wish to travel quickly from one end of the North Country Trail to the other will also find going through Canada convenient. It can also be a nice option to follow the north shore of Lake Superior from northern Minnesota to Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

The Enhanced Licenses cost about half of what is required for a passport, with no waiting period. The Michigan Secretary of State says, "When travelers approach an American border station in a vehicle, they simply hold up their EDL. Technology in the card allows it to be scanned from a distance. By the time travelers reach the station, security personnel will usually only need to make a quick visual check. No personal information is transmitted during this process." The licenses comply with the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI).

In Michigan, one must obtain an EDL at a SOS Super!Center. These can be found by following the link at the end of the article.

The ACLU has taken a stand against the cards because they contain an RFID, a radio frequency identification chip. They say that this can be read by anyone within about 30 feet. Authorities say that the chip contains nothing but a random number so that encrypting it is superfluous. The ACLU counters that anyone with that number could also break into a database and obtain sensitive information about a person. Companies are already selling protective sleeves that claim to block the ability to read the cards remotely.

For anyone who travels through Canada frequently, the card may be a reasonably priced alternative to obtaining a passport.

See Michigan Enhanced Driver's License
See New York Enhanced Driver's License
See ACLU of Michigan Opposes Enhanced Driver's License

No comments: