Maui News

Citizen’s Guide to New Driver’s License Law

January 26, 2012, 3:38 PM HST
* Updated January 27, 6:46 AM
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Image courtesy County of Maui.

By Wendy Osher

In a little over a month, the state’s new legal presence law takes effect, designed to create a more thorough and secure process for the issuance of driver’s licenses and renewals.  To avoid undue anxiety, the state has prepared information on what to bring, and when to bring it.

Documents You Will Need:

“The next time you go in, after March 5th, you have to prove four things: (1) your legal name, (2) your date of birth, (3) your social security number, (4) and your legal presence,” said State Department of Transportation Communications Chief Dan Meisenzahl.

Three of these criteria can be met by either presenting a birth certificate or passport.  In addition to either item, a person would also need to prove their social security number.


There are several ways to prove your social security number–the easiest way of which is to present a social security card.  For those that don’t have a card, or cannot find theirs, they can still provide proof by presenting one of the following items:

  • Medicaid ID Card (Suffix A, M, T, and TA only – indicates Social Security Number for the person named on the card);
  • Wage and Tax Statement Form W-2 or 1099R, provided the Social Security Number is printed on the document, original or certified copy;
  • SSA-1099 form, from a previous year, original or certified copy;
  • Non SSA-1099 form, from a previous year, original or certified copy.;
  • A pay stub with the applicant’s name and Social Security Number printed, original or certified copy;
  • Valid US Active Duty/Retiree/Reservist Military ID Card, (Card must contain photo, name, and DOB) or DD-214 (DD-214 must be original or certified copy);
  • Valid US Jurisdiction-issued DL/ID/Photo Learner’s Permit (Photo Learner’s Permit must include signature, the card holder’s name must match other submitted document(s) that are presented);
  • Valid US Uniform Services ID and Privileges Card (DD1173 Card must contain photo, names, and DOB)

***For the last three items listed, a valid US Jurisdiction issued DL/ID/Photo Learner’s Permit, CAC or DOD ID DD-2 can be used as evidence of legal names, date of birth, and social security number only IF the information is presented on the document being submitted. If the information is NOT printed on the document then the document cannot be used.

“When we first came out with this information, people thought they needed their social security card, and so we want to make sure that people know that there’s all these different options, but you just have to plan ahead,” said Meisenzahl.



The legal presence guidelines were passed in Hawaii in 2010.  What that means is, a person is either a US citizen or is legally authorized to be in the United States.

State officials say the legislation stems from the 9-11 terrorist attacks, in which terrorists were found to be carrying state IDs and driver’s licenses from a variety of states.

In 2005, Congress passed the Real ID Act, which mandates that all (50) states should have the same uniform guidelines as to what’s required to get a driver’s license.  Several years later, in 2010, the State of Hawai’i passed the Legal Presence Act in an effort to become compliant with that congressional act.

“Part of it is, there has to be a central issuance–which means that all the driver’s licenses have to come from one location; it’s got to be a secure location because it’s going to store all these documents,” said Meisenzahl.

With the use of federal funds, a centralized location was completed, and now, the state is ready to roll out the new requirements, beginning on March 5th.

Now and Then:

The basic difference in applying for a driver’s license from the past is the documents that you’ll need to prove you are eligible.

If you are married and your name is different on your birth certificate than it is on your driver’s license, you will need to present additional documentation.  A Hawaii birth certificate will prove legal presence, plus a certificate of marriage will establish the name change from a birth name to the married name that appears on a driver’s license.

Another difference is the longer processing time and wait before an actual license is produced.

“Before, you used to get your license right then and there, but now, it will get mailed to you in about two weeks,” said Meisenzahl.

The documents that are brought in will be scanned and sent to a centralized location for verification.  During verification, a temporary license will be issued.

Individuals should also allow additional time to prepare documents instead of waiting until the last day for renewal.

“I’m afraid that people are going to be going on that very last day, and not have the documents, and next thing you know, their license is going to be expired,” said Meisenzahl.

Individuals, he said, may want to  factor in some leeway time in case they need to order birth certificates or have other key documents processed.

More information:

There’s a complete list of more detailed criteria on the new law and procedures at the Hawaii Department of Transportation website at  Once there, just click on the legal presence banner.

“For the most part, I think the public seems to really understand why this is necessary.  It’s just kind of one of those things that–because of the 9-11 terrorist attacks–it really changed the world we live in.  This, unfortunately is another example of that,” said Meisenzahl.

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