By Robert G. Yetman, Jr. Editor At Large
As if hassles at the airport weren’t bad enough, they’re about to get a whole lot worse for residents of four states…if those folks don’t take the necessary extra steps that will soon be required for them to pass muster at airport security checkpoints. Apparently, the driver’s licenses for residents of Louisiana, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and New York do not yet meet the updated, required standards for acceptance by government agencies, including the TSA. This means, as early as next year, that residents of these states who carry the deficient licenses, and no other acceptable forms of ID, will find themselves unable to board their flights.
The REAL ID Act, passed by Congress in 2005 and in the midst of a gradual implementation process, outlines the rules and details that are now associated with the acceptance by federal government agencies of personal identification for official purposes. State-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards (for non-drivers) basically serve as the official forms of ID for U.S. residents, given that the country does not issue any form of national identification card, and the REAL ID Act mandated significant changes to the basic composition of those documents in light of present-day security concerns. For the states at issue, the problem seems to be the matter of special security features and machine-readable technology that’s now required of all state ID’s.
It’s currently possible for Minnesota and New York residents to update their current licenses with “enhanced” driver’s licenses that are compliant with the new law…for a fee (the fee for New Yorkers is $30). The other option, for those who will still have only the noncompliant licenses in their possession when the prohibition against accepting them becomes firm, is to travel with a second form of ID, like a passport.