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The KUNM news team's coverage of the 2020 legislative session and its impacts

Settlement Forces MVD To Change License And ID Policy

Holloman Air Force Base via CC

New Mexico’s struggled for years with how to handle Real ID and created a two-tiered system where people have an option for an alternative license or identification card. A legal settlement announced on Tuesday, Aug. 21, will force the Motor Vehicle Division to accept more types of documentation for people who opt out of Real ID.

In 2016, New Mexico started issuing Real ID-compliant cards—the kind that will be required to get on a plane in a couple of years. But the Legislature also passed a law that year saying folks could instead choose an alternative driver’s license or identification card that would still be valid in the state.

Neza Leal with Somos un Pueblo Unido says MVD was demanding more documentation for these cards than the law laid out. "The last thing that any New Mexican wants to worry about is having to navigate a really difficult and painful process to be able to get a driver’s license or an ID card."

Several advocacy groups representing immigrants, people experiencing homelessness and people with low incomes sued the state in January. Under this settlement, people will only have to prove their identity, age and residency in New Mexico for that alternate ID. MVD will also have to notify people in writing when their application for a card is denied and outline what they need to do to fix it.


"The New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) is committed to assisting New Mexico residents obtain a Real ID or driving authorization card. This resolution differentiates the documents required to obtain a Real ID and a DAC." —Kevin Kelley, spokesperson, via email

Marisa Demarco began a career in radio at KUNM News in late 2013 and covered public health for much of her time at the station. During the pandemic, she is also the executive producer for Your NM Government and No More Normal, shows focused on the varied impacts of COVID-19 and community response, as well as racial and social justice. She joined Source New Mexico as editor-in-chief in 2021.