By Benjamin Din,Reuben Fischer-Baum and Kevin Uhrmacher | The Washington Post
In the past few months, straggling states have been in a mad dash to comply with the requirements of a 2005 federal act in hopes of avoiding a domestic air travel nightmare for their residents.
The Real ID Act calls for states to abide by federal standards to issue identification documents, such as driver’s licenses and ID cards. A congressional attempt to curb terrorism post-9/11, the act is being enforced in stages. The final stage of implementation, which targets air travel, is slated to begin Jan. 22.
It has taken the federal government nearly 15 years to implement the act fully, a process that has been marred by controversy and confusion at almost every turn.
Critics assailed the legislation as a federal attempt to create a national database of citizens. Although compliant states must meet certain requirements, there is no uniform Real ID card: States still issue their own documents, but they need to meet tougher security standards related to card issuance, card design and application processing.
The government has used various designations to track a state’s implementation progress, but the three main statuses are compliant, non-compliant and noncompliant with an extension.
If a state is deemed noncompliant, its residents would no longer be able to use such documents for federal identification purposes. (There are no such states at the moment.) Currently, they would be barred from using their state credentials to enter military bases, most federal facilities and nuclear power plants.
On Jan. 22, that list would include airport security checkpoints. Last December, the Transportation Security Administration began posting signs at airport security checkpoints warning travelers about the upcoming deadline.
Until then, state-issued driver’s licenses and ID cards can still be used for domestic air travel, regardless of a state’s compliance status. After that, those from noncompliant states will not be allowed. Those from states with extensions will not be affected, as long as extensions are maintained.
The hard cutoff is Oct. 1, 2020, when all driver’s licenses and ID cards must be compliant to go through airport security. (Most compliant states offer a choice to opt out of obtaining a compliant ID.)
Currently, 26 states and the District of Columbia meet federal standards.
All the remaining states have been granted an extension through Oct. 10, which indicates a state is making good progress on implementation. Extensions are renewable for up to a year, at the discretion of the …read more
Source:: The Mercury News – Lifestyle