On REAL ID, Oregon Catches a Break From the Feds

by | July 12, 2017

By Elliot Njus

The federal government is giving the Oregon DMV another temporary reprieve after state lawmakers approved a plan to offer TSA-compliant driver's licenses.

The state is overdue to create licenses compliant with the Real ID Act of 2005, passed by Congress after the 9/11 attacks as an anti-terrorism measure. Residents of states not in compliance can't use their driver's licenses or other state-issued ID cards to enter federal facilities or, come Jan. 22, board commercial flights.

But the feds have offered Oregon a series of extensions as it moved toward compliance, and state officials say Oregonians aren't likely to be barred from flights until well after the new cards are available.

DMV officials say they've been assured Oregon will continue to receive extensions from the federal government if they continue working toward Real ID implementation.

The upgraded card is expected to be available around July 2020, just months before the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has said it will stop accepting IDs from non-compliant states and airport security checkpoints in October 2020.

But DMV officials say they expect the federal government will grant extensions that make the deadline a little less tight.

"They don't want to put a state in a position where millions of people will want to get an ID on the same day," DMV spokesman David House said.

Oregon will implement the new IDs along with a new computer system intended to reduce the DMV's reliance on paper forms and outdated digital records. That upgrade is also expected to allow Oregonians to conduct more DMV transactions online.

Twenty-five states and the District of Columbia are already in compliance with the Real ID Act. Two, Missouri and Minnesota, have been deemed out of compliance and not granted any more extensions. Minnesota, however, offers residents an enhanced ID card that is accepted.

Oregon's upgrade is coming down to the wire because the state Legislature, affronted by an unfunded federal mandate, in 2009 prohibited the Oregon DMV from spending any money to become Real ID-compliant.

The new bill puts the added costs on the cardholders, who will pay an as-yet specified fee for the Real ID compliant cards. Drivers will still have the option to obtain a non-compliant ID, but they will need to provide another form of identification to fly.

The changes required under the Real ID Act mostly aren't to the identification card itself.

Rather, it requires applicants to show documentation of citizenship or legal residency, as Oregon has since 2008. The state also must maintain copies of documents provided as proof of citizenship or residency for 10 years, and it must conduct fingerprint background check on anyone who makes state ID cards.

(c)2017 The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.)