Making sure REAL ID isn't a real hassle for you

You should be able to continue flying on domestic airlines and accessing federal buildings in the immediate future without interruption using your Pennsylvania driver's license or photo ID under legislation the General Assembly passed today and the governor said he will sign into law.

The legislation repeals a law Pennsylvania passed in 2012 prohibiting the state from implementing the federal REAL ID Act. 

REAL ID, passed by Congress in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, sets minimum security standards for state-issued driver's licenses and photo IDs.

Pennsylvania and several other states refused to participate, arguing that Congress was overstepping its authority and issuing an unfunded mandate to the states.

But last fall, the Department of Homeland Security said residents in states that did not follow the federal law would begin facing airline travel bans and other restrictions.

The General Assembly had a deadline of June 6 to begin taking steps to implement REAL ID in Pennsylvania.

Today's repeal of the 2012 state law begins that process. 

With today's state action, the federal Department of Homeland Security is expected to issue extensions that would allow PA residents to continue using their current driver's license to fly and access federal buildings until 2020.

In the meantime, PennDOT will be working with the Department of Homeland Security to develop REAL ID-compliant PA driver's licenses and photo IDs.

When it comes time for you to renew your PA driver's license or photo ID, you will be given the choice of requesting a license that's REAL ID-compliant or a standard driver's license or photo ID.

The REAL ID license will likely cost more than the standard license, but without the REAL ID license you will need a passport or military ID to fly or enter many federal facilities.

Your freedom to travel shouldn't be hindered because of a decision legislators made on your behalf back in 2012.

Today's legislation puts the decision about REAL ID back in your hands and is aimed at helping you avoid unnecessary delays or restrictions when flying or accessing federal facilities.

Legislators will be working with PennDOT to keep you informed about the new licenses, what they will cost, and when they will be available so you can make an informed choice about REAL ID.