The REAL ID Act never got its act together, as the date of full enforcement has been extended at least six times since the 9/11 Commission — which was established after the historic events which occurred on Tuesday, September 11, 2001 — gave its recommendation for the standardization of official documents which are issued by state governments.
REAL ID Full Enforcement Date Extended Yet Again
The new date of full enforcement is now Wednesday, May 7, 2025 — which is essentially a full 20 years which have elapsed since the Act was passed in 2005.
The latest extension of the deadline gives states additional time to ensure that their residents have driver’s licenses and identification cards meet the minimum security standards under the new regulations which were published to execute this change as established by the REAL ID Act — as well as to significantly improve the reliability and accuracy of those official documents.
The purpose of the REAL ID Act — which was passed by members of the House of Representatives of the United States back in 2005 — is to set minimum standards of security for the issuance by governments of sources of official identification that include certain security features on the document, successful verification of the personal information which is presented when applying for the identification document, and electronic sharing of databases between states…
…and the Transportation Security Administration would be among the agencies of the federal government of the United States which would be prohibited from accepting for official purposes any licenses and identification cards which are issued from states that do not meet those minimum standards. Those official purposes include:
Access to certain federal facilities
Entrance to nuclear power plants
The boarding of passengers who are a minimum of 18 years of age on commercial airplanes which are regulated by the federal government of the United States
“The extension is necessary, in part, to address the lingering impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the ability to obtain a REAL ID driver’s license or identification card”, according to this article which is posted at the official Internet web site of the Department of Homeland Security. “REAL ID progress over the past two years has been significantly hindered by state driver’s licensing agencies having to work through the backlogs created by the pandemic. Many of these agencies took various steps in response to the pandemic including automatically extending the expiration dates of driver’s licenses and identification cards and shifting operations to appointment only.”
In the meantime, the Department of Homeland Security of the United States will use the extension time of two years to implement new technological innovations in order to ensure that the process is more efficient and accessible for safer travel. Those advancements in technology have enabled the Transportation Security Administration to implement significant improvements in screening at security checkpoints at airports — particularly in the areas of identity management, on-person screening, accessible property screening, and alarm resolutions — include the deployment of technologies such as:
Advanced Imaging Technology
Advanced Technology X-ray
Bottled Liquids Scanners
Credential Authentication Technology
Deployment of Passenger Screening Canines
The rollout of TSA PreCheck
The Transportation Security Administration has also “increased its vetting capability through Secure Flight, a risk-based passenger prescreening program that enhances security by identifying low and high-risk passengers before they arrive at the airport by matching their names against trusted traveler lists and watchlists”, according to the aforementioned article. “REAL ID requirements will strengthen these improvements further by providing an additional layer of confidence in the identity of the traveler.”
Minimum security standards also include:
Incorporating anti-counterfeiting technology
Preventing insider fraud
Using documentary evidence and record checks to ensure a person is who they claim to be
All 50 states in the United States, the District of Columbia, and four of five territories of the United States covered by the REAL ID Act and related regulations are issuing driver’s licenses and identification cards which are compliant with the REAL ID Act. Compliance is usually shown with one of five markings — usually a gold star or a star in a black circle — on the upper top portion of the document.
Although I do believe that the basic premise of the REAL ID Act has merit, this is yet another example of government which is overly bloated. To take at least 20 years to implement security measures that are supposedly necessary for safer travel is inexcusable, in my opinion…
…and yet, we have all managed to survive without the REAL ID Act for 20 years — which begs the question: do we really need the REAL ID Act in the first place?