CLAIM

Residents of some states will no longer be able to use their driver's licenses as ID for boarding airplanes after January 2018. See Example(s)

EXAMPLES
Collected via e-mail, September 2015 and March 2017

Americans from New York, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Louisiana and American Samoa will have to carry passports to board domestic flights due to non-compliance of their
drivers’ licenses with the TSA standards. Is this really true?


Beginning Jan. 22, 2018, the TSA is changing its drivers license rules


This sounds like a hoax to me: “Beginning Jan. 22, 2018, travelers from nine states will no longer be able to travel with only their driver’s licenses.
Residents of Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Washington will have to use alternate ID forms (passport, military ID, or permanent resident card) to pass TSA security checkpoints-even for domestic travel.”


Air travel is about to get a lot harder if you live in certain states…

Starting in January 2018, you won’t be able to use your driver’s license as a photo ID when flying if you live in one of these eight states:
Kentucky
Maine
Minnesota
Missouri
Montana
Pennsylvania
South Carolina
Washington
That’s because the REAL ID Act passed in 2005 requires driver’s licenses to meet specific regulations. The states listed above have yet to meet these standards.

And if you have a license from some of these states, as of January 2017 you can’t access federal buildings or nuclear power plants with your state-issued driver’s license. It won’t count as an acceptable form of photo ID.

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RATING

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ORIGIN

In May 2005, the U.S. Congress passed, and President George W. Bush signed the “Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Tsunami Relief Act” into law. Contained within that legislation was the “REAL ID Act,” provisions requiring every state to issue drivers’ licenses which conformed to a national standard.

The “REAL ID Act” was a response to the September 11 terrorist attacks on the U.S., attacks that were facilitated by 18 of the 19 hijackers’ having obtained fraudulent identification (including U.S. drivers’ licenses) that helped them board the planes they hijacked and flew into the Pentagon and World Trade Center buildings.

The “REAL ID Act” mandated that by 11 May 2008, each U.S. state implement systems ensuring that motorists who apply for licenses are who they say they are and do not pose security risks. After that date, persons looking to obtain or renew drivers’ licenses issued by any of the 50 states would have to provide documentation of identity (e.g., birth certificate, passport), documentation of residency address (e.g., utility bills), and documentation showing they are in the United States legally (e.g., birth certificate from a U.S. state or territory, U.S. passport, U.S. permanent residency card).

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security extended the 11 May 2008 deadline to 31 December 2009 for states that both asked for a postponement and provided a compliance plan, and as of the original deadline, all fifty states had either applied for or received extensions.

Numerous states were up in arms about the law, primarily because they maintained that having to vet every holder of a driver’s license would be a lengthy and expensive process, one that would hopelessly snarl their motor vehicle and public safety departments. State officials also expressed concerns about maintaining individuals’ rights to privacy. By the end of 2009, half the states had approved resolutions or legislation proclaiming that they did not want to participate in the program, and bills were introduced into Congress seeking to amend or repeal it.

REAL ID enforcement was intended to be implemented in phases beginning in April 2014, with the final phase (Phase 4) affecting airline travel. After the implementation of that final phase, a driver’s license issued by a state that was not in compliance with the REAL ID act would not, by itself, be a sufficient form of identification for boarding commercial aircraft in the U.S.:

Boarding federally regulated commercial aircraftA driver’s license or identification card from a noncompliant state may only be used in conjunction with a second form of ID for boarding federally regulated commercial aircraft.

Towards the end of 2015 media outlets began reporting that when the Phase 4 was implemented at the beginning of 2016, persons with driver’s licenses from the handful of states and territories that were still not in compliance with the REAL ID act (New York, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and the American Samoa) would need to use a passport or some other form of accepted ID in order to board commercial aircraft:

Starting in 2016, travelers from four U.S. states will not be able to use their driver’s licenses as ID to board domestic flights — a pretty major development considering an estimated 38 percent of Americans don’t have passports.The standard licenses from New York, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and American Samoa are considered “noncompliant” with the security standards outlined in the REAL ID Act, which was enacted back in 2005 but is being implemented in stages. Why are these specific licenses deemed sub-par? In these five places, getting a license doesn’t require proof of citizenship or residency.

Here’s the breakdown: if you’re from one of these states, “acceptable” IDs include passports and passport cards, as well as permanent resident cards, U.S. military ID, and DHS trusted traveler cards such a Global Entry and NEXUS.

Did that mean that come 1 January 2016, residents of those states were unable to board a plane by using driver’s licenses as their ID? Not quite. First of all, enforcement of Phase 4 provisions was officially slated to begin “No sooner than 2016” — but at the time, the government hadn’t announced the exact date on which it would take effect. A planned three-month “forgiveness period” during after such time as the law was enforced enabled people with non-compliant licenses to receive warning that their IDs would no longer be valid for flights (but they would still be allowed to board aircraft).

Additionally, at least some of the non-compliant states (such as Minnesota) were at the time working to bring their driver’s licenses into compliance with federal regulations and/or have the enforcement of Phase 4 provisions pushed back:

Gov. Mark Dayton on [has] urged legislators to repeal a state law that could prevent Minnesotans from boarding commercial planes with their current driver’s license.Dayton said in a news conference that the state should comply with the federal REAL ID Act, a 2005 law requiring better security features for state-issued ID cards.

Dayton said he spoke with Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson. “He indicated … that they would come up with an updating of that deadline before the end of this year,” Dayton said.

On 8 January 2016 DHS Secretary Jeh C. Johnson issued a statement regarding the final phase of REAL ID Act enforcement, providing a date of 22 January 2018 for enforcement of air travel-related provisions:

Today I announce the schedule for the final phase of implementation of the REAL ID Act. Bottom line up front: Effective January 22, 2018, air travelers with a driver’s license or identification card issued by a state that does not meet the requirements of the REAL ID Act (unless that state has been granted an extension to comply with the Act) must present an alternative form of identification acceptable to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in order to board a commercial domestic flight. Over the next two years, those states that are not REAL ID compliant are strongly encouraged to meet the requirements of the law for the benefit of their residents.

As of March 2017, the status of state implementation of the REAL ID Act remained fluid and residents of nine states stood to be affected by its provisions as of 22 January 2017. Lawmakers in some of the listed states raised objections about the looming deadline and voiced privacy concerns, and the possibility of further extensions or pre-deadline compliance lingered:

Residents of nine states — Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Washington — may need to use a passport or some other government-approved identification unless their driver’s licenses are changed by [22 January 2018]. Other states have been granted extensions while they prepare to comply with the requirement.

Signs have been placed near checkpoints in some airports to notify passengers of the changing requirements … Some states have raised privacy concerns, saying the ID requirements may produce information on individuals that can be compiled in a national database. “This is a game of intimidation being played out between Congress and the federal government and state governments, with ordinary citizens being squeezed in the middle,” Edward Hasbrouck of the Identity Project, a privacy advocate, told the New York Times in December [2016].

Additional information:

REAL ID Final Rule

REAL ID Proposed Guidelines: Questions & Answers   (Department of Homeland Security)

Sources:

Arnoldy, Ben.   “Resistance Rises to US Law That Requires Stricter ID Standards.”
    Christian Science Monitor.   9 February 2007   (p. 1).

Gaouette, Nicole.   “National ID Requirements Postponed Under Criticism.”
    Los Angeles Times.   2 March 2007   (p. A16).

  Gibson, William.   “Air Travelers, Be Warned.”
    AARP Travel.   1 March 2017.

    Gledhill, Lynda.   “Long Waits Looming for License Renewals.”
    San Francisco Chronicle.   24 July 2006.

    USA Today.   “Time Running Out on Arguments Against Real ID.”
    6 March 2007   (p. A12).

    U.S. Department of Homeland Security.   “Statement By Secretary Jeh C. Johnson On The Final Phase Of REAL ID Act Implementation.”
    8 January 2016.