OKLAHOMA CITY— By next year, Oklahomans looking to enter a federal building, military base or courthouse will need to present alternate forms of identification rather than a state driver’s license thanks to the REAL ID Act.
Signed into law by the Bush Administration in 2005, the REAL ID Act prohibits federal agencies from accepting driver’s licenses and identification cards issued by states that do not meet the law’s standards for secure issuance and production.
The law was passed by Congress after 9/11 as a way to increase security measures. The overall goal of the law is to make it more difficult for terrorists to obtain an ID and make IDs more consistent and secure.
“The law charges the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with establishing minimum requirements for these standards,” U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson said in a statement. “So, for a license or identification card to be REAL ID compliant, the state issuing it must, for example, incorporate anti-counterfeit technology into the card, verify the applicant’s identity and conduct background checks for employees involved in issuing driver’s licenses.”
Oklahoma is one of several states that is noncompliant and has not been granted a renewed extension and will be subject to REAL ID enforcement following a short grace period.
This means travelers in the state will need a passport or another form of identification to board a plane in the next two years.
On Oct. 10, the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety was notified that the state’s request for an extension of time to become compliant with the REAL ID Act has been denied.
In 2007, Oklahoma passed a law stating it would not comply with the law.
In March 2016, Oklahoma Sen. David Holt tried passing Senate Bill 1362, which would allow Oklahomans to voluntarily choose to retain a license that is not compliant with the federal REAL ID Act or choose to obtain one that is.
The bill barred the state from sharing personal information with the federal government in relation to the REAL ID Act.
"My constituents and many other Oklahomans have been very vocal that they want the liberty to choose a driver license that allows them to fly, and this bill is a common sense compromise that gives them that liberty," Holt, R-Oklahoma City, said in a statement. "Grandma has to be able to visit her grandkids and we have to give her that option or we have failed."
Unfortunately, Holt’s bill passed the Senate but was struck down by the House.
Now, the state is under a time crunch. Oklahoma has been issued a grace period that will end on Jan. 29, 2017.
According to the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS), “Starting Jan. 30, 2017, Federal agencies are prohibited from accepting driver’s licenses and identification cards issued by (non-compliant) states for official purposes.”
After Jan. 30, 2017, Oklahoma driver’s licenses and state-issued ID cards will no longer be accepted to enter a federal building or facility, military base, courthouse, etc.
Oklahomans are strongly encouraged to plan ahead before visiting any federal building or facility. When planning a visit to a Federal facility or military base, visitors should contact the facility to determine what identification will be accepted.
Flights won’t be affected until 2018.
Starting on Jan. 22, 2018, a driver’s license or state ID issued by a state that is not in compliance with the REAL ID Act and has not been granted an extension by DHS will not be accepted to board a commercial aircraft within the U.S. This means an Oklahoma driver’s license or state ID card will not be accepted.
Other forms of identification accepted by the Transportation Security Administration are Passport or Passport Card, Global Entry cards, U.S. military IDs, airline or airport-issued IDs, federally recognized and tribal-issued photo IDs.
The Act’s prohibitions do not affect other uses of driver’s licenses or identification cards – including licenses and cards from noncompliant states – unrelated to official purposes as defined in the Act. For example, the Act does not apply to voting, registering to vote or for applying for or receiving federal benefits.
According to the Associated Press and KOSU News, state representatives said they intend to introduce a bill early during the upcoming legislative session that would bring Oklahoma into immediate compliance with the REAL ID law.
The Oklahoma legislature convenes at noon on Feb. 6, 2017.
— The Associated Press contributed to this report.