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New York's new "Enhanced License" doubles as passport

By By PAT BAILEY

Starting this September, New Yorkers will have a second option when it comes to purchasing a drivers license.

The new enhanced license will also act as a passport going in and out of some US borders.

The idea is to make ground travel in and out of Canada easier. The new licenses will actually be cheaper than a passport, however there are a few drawbacks to the new concept.

Starting in September. you can purchase one for $80, that is roughly $20 cheaper than a passport. It will act as your driver’s license and legal documentation at Canada and Mexico boarders.

The catch is, you can only use it for ground travel to Canada and Mexico. So unless you drive to Mexico a lot, or work in Canada, some suggest the new ID's are pointless to those in Central New York.

Ed Welsh, of the Utica area AAA, said “This is a very good thing for people who live in Canada that have to go back and forth a lot. But for the average citizen, that goes there on vacation once in a while it's a waste of money and your better off with your passport.”

The main objective of state lawmakers is to create a boost in the economy.

According to a release from the Governor’s office Canada and U.S. trade support over 460,000 New York State jobs. In 2006, that boarder trading resulted in $489 billion dollars worth of business.

Canadians made about two and a half million visits to New York State, and spent nearly $680 million dollars. Conversely New Yorkers crossed the boarder one and a half million times spending roughly $561 million dollars.

According to a 2006 statistic, roughly 35% of New Yorkers own a passport with the benefit of allowing them to travel to more than just Canada and Mexico.

Beginning in June of next year, a passport and the new licenses will be just two of a handful of ways to get across both the Mexican and Canadian boarder.



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