Since the passage of the Federal REAL ID Act of 2005, more and more Florida residents are finding that they cannot renew their Florida Driver’s License because the name printed on their birth certificate or social security card does not match the name they have been using.
It could be because they assumed the use of a name without changing any of their official documents. It could be because of a spelling error on the birth certificate or social security card. Or it could be because they have unknowingly been going by a name different from the name printed on their birth certificate. These problems can usually be corrected by petitioning for a legal change of name.
Here’s an example: I had a client whom I will refer to as “Jane Smith.” She was born in New York, and now she lives in Pasco County, Florida. She’s been known her whole life as Jane Smith, her parents always called her Jane Smith, and so, for good reason, she thought her name was Jane Smith.
One day, Jane helps her mother clean out her attic. While going through some boxes, Jane finds a New York birth certificate for a “Jamie Smith.” What is more, Jamie Smith’s date of birth is listed as one day earlier than the day Jane Smith has been celebrating her birthday.
When Jane asked her mother about the certificate, her mother said that this was, indeed, Jane’s birth certificate. Jane’s mother explained that she and her father had initially intended her name to be Jamie, but decided after they left the hospital to call her Jane, and they never took any steps to correct the birth certificate. Further, they had noticed the mistake of the date of birth on the certificate, but, again, they never attempted to change the date because they did not think they could.
Understandably, Jane was upset to find that her birth certificate was incorrect. In addition, her driver’s license was set to expire, and she may not be able to renew it under the REAL ID Act because the name and date of birth she wanted to go by was different from the information listed on her birth certificate. So she came to my office to learn her options.
I ended up representing her in an action in Pasco County for legal name change and correction of her date of birth. Once the Court granted her request and her case was over, I provided her with the information necessary to correct her New York Birth Certificate, U.S. Passport, Social Security Card, and renew her Florida Driver’s License.
Though every case is different, and some people may not be eligible for a correction of their legal name (if, for example, you were convicted of a felony and your civil rights have not been restored), you should consult with an attorney to discuss your options.