OLYMPIA – Even though Washington state officials asked for an extension from compliance from enforcement of federal requirements for state driver’s licenses and ID cards through October 2020, they said Tuesday federal officials have informed them that at this point their extension will only be granted through the middle of next month.
A spokesman for the state Department of Licensing said that the Department of Homeland Security is expected to make an announcement soon that the federal agency will be granting a July 10 extension for several states that currently have extensions that expire Wednesday due to a delay in review of progress of the states on compliance with the 2005 REAL ID Act.
“No indication was given that there is a problem with Washington’s request in particular, rather, they are all delayed,” Tony Sermonti, the licensing department’s legislative director, wrote in an email. “We are disappointed by the continued moving of timeframes and commitments by DHS on a topic that can quickly create significant confusion and complication for the traveling public.”
The federal law requires state driver’s licenses and ID cards to have security enhancements and to be issued to people who can prove they are legally in the United States. It was passed after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks to strengthen rules for identification needed at airports and federal facilities.
Washington state lawmakers passed a measure this year creating a two-tiered licensing system that was signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee last month.
Washington state already offers, but does not mandate, enhanced driver’s licenses and IDs that require proof of U.S. citizenship and are valid under the federal law. Starting in July 2018, the state’s standard licenses – which aren’t in line with the federal requirements – will be marked to indicate they are not REAL ID compliant and thus not acceptable for certain purposes by federal authorities.
Residents will have a choice of which license they want. Those with the non-compliant licenses will need additional documentation – such as a passport, permanent resident card or military ID – to board domestic commercial flights and for other federal purposes, most likely starting in October 2020.
Washington was among several states that were scrambling to address this issue, concerned about the possibility of residents needing additional documentation sooner, based on a January 2018 deadline for flights that the federal government had sent for states not in compliance and without extensions.
Just 25 states and the District of Columbia are currently in compliance with the federal law, though most of the remaining states and territories have been granted various extensions. Residents of states that are in compliance have until Oct. 21, 2020, before being required to show the REAL ID compliant identification.
Several other states passed bills addressing REAL ID this year, including Maine, Minnesota, Alaska, Montana and Missouri.
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