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Pennsylvania To Start Pre-Qualifying Residents For A Real ID

Ted S. Warren
A sign at the federal courthouse in Tacoma, Wash., informs visitros fo the federal government's REAL ID act.

After years of dragging its heels, Pennsylvania’s on its way to compliance with the federal Real ID law.

On Monday, the Department of Transportation said soon everyone in the state will be able to pre-apply for new IDs.

Any person who got their first driver’s license or state ID after 2003 has been allowed to pre-qualify for Real ID since March, since the necessary documents are already on file.




But most Pennsylvanians have had their licenses longer, so the information’s not in PennDOT’s system. They can start submitting documents next month.





In March 2019, the state plans to start retrofitting driver licensing centers to issue Real IDs in-person. Locations will include Williamsport, Wilkes-Barre, Rockview, Erie, Altoona, and South 70th Street in Philadelphia. Plus, they’re adding new facilities in Pittsburgh, King of Prussia, Allentown, Harrisburg, and Lancaster.

Real IDs aren’t mandatory.





But PennDOT Deputy Secretary for Driver and Vehicle Services Kurt Myers said come October 2020 the current state licenses won’t be accepted to board planes, so people who don’t have Real IDs will have to show a passport if they want to fly.




“Other states that have already implemented Real ID are seeing around a 25 percent adoption rate, and that’s what we expect here in Pennsylvania as well,” he said.





The federal Real ID policy isn’t new; it dates back to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.





“If you remember going back to those terrible days, many of the terrorists had fake IDs that they had received,” Myers said. “This was a direct result of that.”





Complying was tough for the commonwealth.





A 2011 law expressly prohibited officials from adopting post-9/11 Real ID standards, and it had to be repealed before changes could be made.






Pennsylvania has already had to apply for one extension from the federal government so it can get into compliance, and Myers said they’ll have to get one more before the process is finished.