Confused about the Real ID Act? DPS officials break down what’s next

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OKLAHOMA CITY – While millions of Americans take to the skies every day, officials with the Transportation Security Administration say thousands may be turned away at the airport next year for not having a REAL ID-compliant license.

However, state officials with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation warn that the deadline for Oklahomans may be far sooner than that.

The REAL ID Act was put in place in 2005 to improve the reliability of state-issued ID’s, making it harder for terrorists to obtain fake identification.

In 2007, Oklahoma passed a law that said our state wouldn’t comply with the REAL ID Act, citing concerns about how residents’ information was stored.

Over the last few years, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has given Oklahoma several extensions to meet the requirements in the REAL ID Act. Without the extensions, federal agencies would have been prohibited from accepting Oklahoma driver’s licenses as proper identification cards.

On Tuesday, officials with the TSA reminded travelers that the REAL ID Act would be fully implemented on Oct. 1, 2020.

Oklahoma is one of just a handful of states that are currently not REAL ID-compliant. Oklahoma officials are waiting on one final extension in order to get everything in place before that Oct. 1, 2020 deadline goes into effect.

"Right now, the current extension we have runs out October 10th," said Sarah Stewart, spokeswoman with the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety.

In August, Oklahoma state leaders told News 4 that they had requested an extension until October 2020.

“According to the latest timeline given to the Department of Public Safety by the vendor, the project maintains its progression toward the estimated target date of April 2020 for initial rollout. Additionally, full statewide implementation will be completed by September 2020,” the extension request read.

At this point, officials with Homeland Security have not granted that final extension.  While most officials believe that the Sooner State will receive that extension before the current extension runs out on Oct. 10, they say they still have not received the official letter from Homeland Security.

"Our current extension is good through October 10th. We have every reason to believe they will grant the next extension for us, which will hopefully get us to October 1, 2020. We don't know why they would not because we've been showing them that we're making progress and we're working on this. We just have not received the official letter as of right now to say, for certain, that we have that extension," Stewart told News 4.

State officials say if that extension is not granted, it would create a big mess for Oklahomans trying to travel across the United States.

If the extension is denied, TSA agents could essentially begin enforcing the Real ID rules on Oklahoma travelers immediately, which would prevent anyone from trying to board a flight with just an Oklahoma driver's license.

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"For people who don't have a passport and are waiting to fly domestically, we know this is nail-biting for them. We don't like it either, but we're hopeful we'll get that extension, and we're hopeful we'll hear about it any day now," Stewart said.

At this point, officials say they are still moving forward and getting things in order to begin issuing Real IDs to Oklahoma drivers in April of 2020.

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