REAL ID compliance law beats federal deadline; averts potential travel disruptions

  • Fri May 19th, 2017 1:34pm
  • News

Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bipartisan agreement on REAL ID compliance Tuesday.

The legislation is the result of years of effort and negotiation on the part of the chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, Sen. Curtis King, R-Yakima, the prime sponsor of the bill. The new law brings the state into compliance with the federal requirements of the 2005 REAL ID Act.

Federal officials had denied additional waivers from REAL ID compliance for Washington. Under the 2005 federal law, traditional driver’s licenses will not be acceptable for commercial domestic air travel beginning in January of 2018. Travel and economic disruptions are possible at major airports of noncompliant states as people relying on traditional licenses find themselves turned away once they reach the security gates. Because of the passage of Senate Bill 5008, these problems will be averted for Washington state travelers.

The new state law requires licenses to be marked pursuant to REAL ID Act requirements. These markings indicate whether a license is valid or not valid for federal purposes.

“It really is a simple fix to a big problem,” King explained. “Time was running out, but we got it done on time.”

Passage of the legislation is expected to result in a 2-year federal compliance extension that will give Washington residents time to obtain an enhanced license or other federal document so that they can engage in domestic air travel.

The legislation also dramatically reduces the cost of enhanced driver’s licenses (EDLs), which are already REAL-ID compliant, from $108 to $78. Restrictions on the state Department of Licensing from using funds to comply with the 2005 REAL ID Act are removed.

“This bill has been controversial, but that was mostly because of confusion about what the fix was and what it was not,” King said. “We were patient; we listened to concerns and made changes so it was able to pass with solid bipartisan support. This fix is fair, it saves money for motorists, and it protects the state economy.”

The new state transportation budget allocates $4.5 million for additional DOL staff to address the possible increase in EDL issuance. DOL was also provided $350,000 for education and outreach activities related to EDLs and identicards.