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DC DMV alerts that DC Driver's Licenses are good until they expire for REAL ID

DC residents are not required to replace their license until it expires
DC residents are not required to replace their license until it expires
Photo by Professor Metze

Washington drivers are being asked to please note a major cause of confusion with customers calling the DMV about the new REAL IDs. Attention to all drivers in the city. Your current driver’s license is good until it expires. Repeat: the DMV is issuing the new REAL IDs as the current driver’s license expires. The District of Columbia government is not requiring residents to turn in their driver's license before it expires.

A DC Customer Service subscriber contacted and reported that an unnamed television news report stated that all DC drivers had to get new licenses on May 1st, 2014. This is not accurate. For example, your customer service reporter has been driving over 40 years with a perfect DC driving record. The next trip to the DMV is in 2020. A REAL ID will be issued for this online newspaper reporter on May 30, 2020 when his current DC license expires. There will be a report of that visit on in 2020.

Starting on May 1, 2014, DC DMV will begin issuing new driver licenses and identification cards in compliance with the Federal Government's REAL ID security standards. However, your existing DC credential will remain valid until its expiration date and will still be accepted to enter Federal buildings and board airplanes.

The television news report was false. This is not an attack on television news. Walter Cronkite was an inspiration in journalism school and was in charge of CBS News when the present writer was a CBS intern and covered the Windfall Profits Tax Protest story in 1979 and 1980. Yet, on listening to a television news story missing a key phrase or not hearing all of the details of a story can lead to a misconception.

Readers should tell family and friends that there is no need to run down to the DMV on May 1, 2014, if the current DC driver’s license does not expire until next year or the year after that and so on. There is no need to worry. The caller in question was ranting and raving about the inconvenience of having to get off work to go to the DMV to renew a license that does not expire for five years. The reader was angry with Mayor Vincent Gray for imposing this new inconvenience. Gray had nothing to do with the false report. He was being falsely accused by the reader.

The problem with the incorrect information is based on the complexity of the situation. This is a story for print so that it can be read and reread. In the television news story the customer heard the television news reporter say, “All DC drivers will have to get new driver’s licenses.” The customer did not hear the television news reporter say, “All DC drivers will have to get new DC driver’s licenses WHEN THEIR CURRENT LICENSE EXPIRES.” There over 650,000 residents in DC. Imagine the chaos if every driver rushed to the DMV to get a new license, at the same time, on May 1, 2014. So to repeat, again, keep your current license until it expires. Then you will be given a new REAL ID when you go in to renew your license.

When it is time to renew your credential, you will be required to visit a DC DMV Service Center in-person because it is not possible to verify identification online. Residents must bring:

• Proof of Identity

• Proof of Social Security Number

• Proof of DC Residency

To avoid any further confusion your customer service reporter is providing the information as it is offered on the DMV website:

Effective May 1, 2014, the District of Columbia will begin issuing a REAL ID credential.

The REAL ID credential requires a one-time revalidation of source documents when obtaining, renewing or requesting a duplicate DC driver license or identification card. This validation will enable the DC Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to ensure your identity and issue a federally compliant REAL ID driver license/identification card. The new requirements will affect what you will need to bring to the DC DMV office when obtaining, renewing or requesting a duplicate credential. First time DC applicants and existing DC driver license/identification card holders should expect to provide source documents as proof of identity (full legal name and date of birth), social security number, lawful presence in the United States, and current residence in the District of Columbia.

What is “REAL ID”?

REAL ID is a coordinated effort by US jurisdictions and the Federal Government to improve the reliability and accuracy of driver licenses and identification cards which should inhibit terrorists’ ability to evade detection by using fraudulent identification. REAL ID implements a 9/11 Commission recommendation urging the Federal Government to “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver licenses.”

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is implementing REAL ID through a period of phased enforcement over the next several years. In particular, the date for implementing the prohibition on boarding aircraft travel will be set after an evaluation of earlier phases and will not occur sooner than 2016.

What does REAL ID require?

The REAL ID Act of 2005 establishes minimum standards for the production and issuance of driver licenses and identification cards and authorizes grants to assist jurisdictions in implementing the requirements. The Act also prohibits federal agencies from accepting for official uses driver licenses and identification cards from jurisdictions unless the DHS determines the jurisdiction meets the standards. Official uses are defined as accessing federal facilities, entering nuclear power plants and boarding federally-regulated commercial aircrafts.

Is REAL ID a national identification card?

No. REAL ID is not a national identification card. US jurisdictions will continue to issue driver licenses and identification cards, and there is no federal database of driver information. Each jurisdiction will issue its own unique license and maintain its own records.

For an official record of enforcement of the new law go to:

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