People who want to get new drivers’ licenses or state ID cards that meet new federal standards should not wait until the last-minute rush, a state official speaking in Elizabethtown said.
Kurt J. Myers, a deputy secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, spoke about the new Real ID-compliant licenses and ID cards at the Elizabethtown Rotary Club on Friday, Sept. 27.
“We are encouraging everyone who wants a Real ID to get it sooner rather than later,” Myers said.
People will need Real ID-compliant identification to board domestic airplanes starting on Oct. 1, 2020. People who have other ID cards acceptable by federal standards, such as passports and military IDs, will not need to get Real-ID compliant cards from PennDOT.
Myers went into the history of the history of the program in his talk. He said hijackers in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, used drivers’ licenses that they obtained fraudulently as identification to board planes. That led to Congress trying to get states to impose stricter security requirements.
“There was a fair amount of opposition to Real ID at the time,” Myers said; some were concerned that it would be a national identification card. In 2012, Pennsylvania passed a law forbidding cooperation with Real ID requirements; that was repealed in 2017, but it caused Pennsylvania to get a late start in complying with Real ID requirements.
Myers emphasized that the Real ID program is optional. People who want a Real ID-compliant card from PennDOT will pay an extra $30 one-time fee. He said this was done to make sure that people who do not want Real ID-compliant cards will not have to pay for the additional costs of the program. (People who renew licenses and do not go through the Real ID process will have licenses marked “Not for Real ID purposes.”) Myers said PennDOT has hired 250 new employees to handle Real ID requirements. But he said if people wait to the last minute to get Real ID cards, there will be long waits.
“The numbers will simply overwhelm the driver licensing centers,” Myers said.
And he also said plenty of people will have other ways to board airplanes and enter federal facilities.
“If you’ve got an alternative form of identification, like a passport, that’s fine,” Myers said.