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Come 2018, driver licenses from nine states won’t be accepted as IDs at the airport

Many travelers had been worried that the Transportation Security Administration would penalize them because of a federal law requiring the more-stringent IDs at the start of this year. Residents of nine states will not be able to use their driver licenses starting January 2018.
Many travelers had been worried that the Transportation Security Administration would penalize them because of a federal law requiring the more-stringent IDs at the start of this year. Residents of nine states will not be able to use their driver licenses starting January 2018. AP

Signs have already begun to pop up at airports across the country: If you live in nine particular states and are counting on your driver license to get you through security, you’ll soon be left grounded.

Thanks to a federal law passed in 2005, residents of Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Washington will need another form of identification to present to the Transportation Security Administration at airports effective Jan. 22, 2018.

The REAL ID act, which was passed with bipartisan support, requires certain security measures to be taken, including a broadened measure of basic information included on ID cards, a “common machine-readable technology, with defined minimum data elements” and anti-fraud measures for the people issuing IDs.

While the law does not compel states to change their process or standards for ID cards, it does require that federal organizations reject any IDs from non-compliant states, which would include domestic air travel.

At the moment, just 24 states, as well as Washington D.C., have made their licenses compliant with the law. However, 15 others have received extensions through 2018, leaving nine with residents who will soon need either a passport or a permanent residence card, depending on their legal status.

As Sunset reports, these states could act before 2018 to make their IDs compliant with the federal standards, and indeed, legislation has already been produced in Missouri and Kentucky that would do that. However, there are several obstacles facing such potential laws.

For one, the REAL ID act has several fierce critics. Rep. Ryan Zinke from Montana introduced legislation in Congress that would repeal the act, though most political experts do not expect the bill to pass. On the Department of Homeland Security’s website, the agency has to deny that it will use the act to build a federal database with people’s personal information, a belief pushed by some privacy advocates.

That belief has resonated with many local lawmakers. In Washington, the legislature has failed to pass any bills regarding the state’s IDs, per the Seattle Times. Pennsylvania has actually passed a law prohibiting the state from participating in the act, according to PennLive, as has South Carolina, per The Post and Courier.

In addition to air travel, people from non-compliant states will feel other effects even sooner. Starting Jan. 30, 2017, those people cannot use their state-issued IDs to enter military bases or federal buildings.

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