Federal Mandate

OK gets another REAL ID extension

The Department of Homeland Security has notified Oklahoma that the state’s extension of federal REAL ID exemption has been changed to October 10, 2018.

This means that Oklahomans can still use their drivers’ licenses and ID cards for air travel and entry into federal facilities without having to have a passport.

Oklahoma Department of Public Safety Commissioner Michael C. Thompson said: “There have been many questions recently about Oklahoma’s status regarding REAL ID. DPS is actively working towards making Oklahoma REAL ID compliant and will use this time to gain compliance with the requirement. We strongly appreciate Governor Fallin’s leadership in signing REAL ID into law.”

Other states with extensions are Washington, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Oregon, Idaho, California, Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Kentucky, South Carolina and Alaska.

States that enforce federal REAL ID standards are Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Texas, Arkansas, Iowa, Wisconsin, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, North Carolina, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, Connecticut, Vermont, Hawaii and Washington, D.C.

States whose laws are being “reviewed” are New York, Rhode Island, Michigan, Illinois, Missouri and Louisiana.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced on December 20, 2013 a phased enforcement plan for the REAL ID Act, as passed by Congress. The REAL ID Act, passed by Congress in 2005, was trying to set a national standard for drivers’ licenses in all states.

In 2007, the Oklahoma Legislature passed a bill to stop the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety from complying. In 2017, the Legislature passed HB1845, which allows DPS to comply with the federal mandates.

DPS estimates it will take more than two years to make the switch. In the meantime, standard Oklahoma drivers’ licenses and IDs will work for air travel and entry into federal facilities.

The REAL ID Act set up rules for states to issue licenses and prohibits certain federal agencies from accepting “noncompliant” IDs for access to federal facilities (federal offices, military bases, etc.), nuclear power plants and federally regulated commercial aircraft.

According to the Department of Public Safety website, “Oklahoma will allow individuals to choose between a REAL ID driver license/ID card and a non-compliant driver license/ID card. If a person chooses to get a non-compliant driver license/ID card, they will need to present alternative forms of identification – such as a U.S. Passport – accepted by the federal agency. Some agencies may have additional processes to accommodate individuals lacking the prescribed identification documents. Non-compliant cards driver license/ID cards will not be accepted by TSA to board a commercial aircraft.”

Oklahoma will be issuing a REAL ID compliant card.

The REAL ID Act has drawn widespread criticism and opposition from state lawmakers because of the insistence of use of biometrics in ID cards.

“There are some concerns that Oklahoma will be sharing biometric information with the Federal government and this is not true,” according to a claim by the Department of Public Safety. “Right now it takes a court order for DPS to release finger images collected for DL/ID purposes.  The commissioner has to approve any request from another law enforcement agency for a person’s DL/ID card photo.   There will not be a federal database.  Oklahoma will still be using the same database that we use now.  That information is stored in Oklahoma and is not controlled by the Federal government.”

Federal officials insist that REAL ID is not a national identification card and that it is not establishing a federal driver license data base but skeptics point out that even if that is true, federal bureaucrats could easily expand their role once all states have complied.

Technically, Oklahoma is not required by law to participate but federal agencies are mandated to follow the guidelines.