OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – For several months, Oklahomans have been struggling to obtain a REAL ID-compliant license.
As the initial deadline for the REAL ID Act approached, Oklahoma officials began to scramble to make sure the state was compliant with the law.
As the coronavirus pandemic spread across the globe, federal officials announced that the implementation of the law would be delayed.
“The federal state and local response to the spread of #coronavirus here in the US necessitates a delay in this deadline,” Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf announced on Twitter.
In April of 2021, the Department of Homeland Security announced that the proposed date to start enforcing Real ID-compliant identification for air travelers will now be May 3, 2023.
It has been almost a year since Oklahoma started issuing REAL IDs to Oklahomans who provided the proper paperwork for the cards.
However, many customers have complained about long lines, extended delays, and errors that made their licenses invalid.
On Wednesday, state leaders held a news conference to discuss potential solutions for Oklahomans struggling to receive REAL IDs.
One solution that is being considered is using megacenters to help speed up the process.
Lawmakers said they wanted to work to address the backlog of IDs, so they passed Senate Bill 1057.
The measure, in addition to adjusting some of the funding appropriations, gives Oklahomans an option to renew their REAL ID-compliant license every eight years instead of every four years.
At this point, lawmakers say Oklahomans are driving two hours to get an appointment to renew their driver’s license or get a REAL ID.
However, that is causing some tag agencies to become overwhelmed.
As a result, officials say they have appropriated $6.6 million in order to fund megacenters that would be able to process a large amount of REAL ID requests at one time.
The megacenters would follow the same model that the state used in the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines earlier this year.
The first megacenter is expected to be held in Oklahoma City in the summer, before another megacenter is held in Tulsa.
The Real ID Act was passed by Congress in 2005 and enacted the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation that the federal government “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses.”
“The Act established minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards and prohibits federal agencies from accepting for official purposes licenses and identification cards from states that do not meet these standards,” according to the DHS website.
A Real ID will be necessary to gain access to federal facilities, board commercial aircrafts, and enter nuclear power plants.
For air travelers flying within the U.S., passports and these TSA-approved forms of identification are also acceptable. Real IDs are not valid for international sea cruise travel, international air travel, or travel across the borders with Canada and Mexico.
“Senate Bill 1057 is a needed step toward making it easier to get a REAL ID or driver’s license and the governor is continuing to work with state agencies on additional solutions to fix the challenges Oklahomans are experiencing.”Charlie Hannema, Chief of Communications to Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt