Health - October 14, 2016

PA put on notice by Department of Homeland Security over REAL ID requirements

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has notified Pennsylvania that as of January 30, 2017, PA issued driver’s licenses will be out of compliance with federal regulations and no longer accepted at federal facilities. That includes flying on commercial airplanes. If you have domestic travel plans after that date and hold a PA issued driver’s license you’ll need to have some other form of federally accepted identification to get through airport security.

The Real ID Act was passed in 2005 at the recommendation of the 9/11 Commission in an effort to “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver's licenses.” The overarching goal being to inhibit terrorist’s ability to obtain and use fraudulent identification. In 2013 DHS announced a three year phase-in plan. That plan allowed for extensions to states taking steps to comply with the act.

Pennsylvania passed the REAL ID Nonparticipation Act in 2012 (Act 38 of 2012), restricting PA’s participation; the act was touted as protecting the privacy of residents of the Commonwealth. At the time concerns about identify theft, unfunded federal mandates, and the creation of a nationwide database of driver’s license holders were cited as reasons for the act. The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania applauded the effort and went as far as to say that “REAL ID is dead” and “can’t function without state participation.”

Fast forward to 2016 and Pennsylvania is now one of eight of states who are not in compliance and not working towards compliance; PA is one of the five states granted the grace period until January 30. The rest of US is either compliant or working towards compliance with the exception of Montana whose extension request is still under review.

DHS has said it will not grant any further extensions unless PA present new information as to why they remain noncompliant.  PennDOT weighed in saying that even if the state would reverse Act 38 they’d need a considerable amount of time to put a system in place to produce IDs that fully comply.