Americans Have A Year To Get “Real IDs”

There is going to be a hassle for many Americans next October if they do not acquire a Real ID. Real ID’s are a new requirement for airline passengers, that adds another form of security to a Driver’s license.

If somehow the calendar could be spun forward one year and today were Oct. 2, 2020, tens of millions of Americans would be ineligible to board a commercial airline flight. And almost three out of every four Americans would lack the most commonly accepted form of identification needed for air travel.

Thankfully, it’s still 2019, so the 235 million to 240 million of us who do not now possess a “REAL ID” driver’s license, or the smaller number who don’t have some other form of compliant identification, still have 365 days, until the Oct. 1, 2020, deadline to get one. (2020 is a leap year, so there’s one extra day in it.)

But that brings up two hugely obvious questions: What is a REAL ID? And, why do I need one?

You can thank Congress, circa 2005, for this new requirement. In the aftermath of the 9-11 terrorist attacks, Congress was seeking to increase the level of aviation security. The REAL ID Act requires all Americans boarding flights to have a form of identification that met tightened security standards. State agencies were ordered to ask for more identity verification, like proof of residency and Social Security numbers, when issuing licenses and identification cards. In addition, Congress required that ID cards incorporate new technology that would make them much more difficult to forge.

Problem is, few states have begun issuing REAL ID-compliant, or enhanced licenses. Thus, approximately 72% of Americans do not yet have REAL ID compliant driver’s licenses. There are other forms of REAL ID-compliant identification that will work in lieu of a REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses, most prominent among them being a passport. But an estimated 99 million Americans do not possess a passport either, plus most people don’t carry their passports when they travel domestically.

Children under 18 won’t be required to have REAL ID compliant identification if they are traveling with an adult who has it.

Such licenses will feature a special mark, typically in the upper right corner of the license. The marks vary by state but typically will include a gold or black star, or a gold or black circle with a white or black star inside the circle. Some states will be issuing cards marked with their state emblem or an outline of the state with a gold, black or white star incorporated in it.”

It seems like a waste of time. As this is not a huge change to an ID. Are they just trying to help States collect additional revenue through the purchase of licenses?