Your driver’s license may not work for airport security check. Get ready for REAL ID

If you thought getting an American passport renewed this last year was a pain, be glad you have one if you do. You’ll be covered for getting past airport security if new regulations from Homeland Security go into effect this spring. The rules were just “unveiled.” If you only have your regular state issued run-of-the-mill driver’s license, it may be just too bad for you if your state doesn’t have a plan to comply to the REAL ID program. In this case, there may problems for that non-compliant state’s residents for passing through an airline security check this May. Or, the government may be bluffing.

In the continuing quest to foil terrorists, the idea is that states need to incorporate the REAL ID program into their mix of valid identification requirements. The REAL ID is a drivers’ license that is obtained through a process designed to ensure that we are who we say we are and not terrorists.

Hmm, when I look at my drivers license, there I am. Maybe there could be a statement under our pictures on our REAL IDs that say, “I promise that the person in the photograph is really really really me and I promise I am not a terrorist in disguise.”

As far as I can tell, if you were born before December 1, 1964, you have until 2017 to get a REAL ID. But, if you were born after this, you only have six years. The thing is, not all states are interested in this program so they may not apply for the waiver and therefore, you may have problems getting the REAL ID when the time comes. If you can’t get a REAL ID you could get a passport, or you could get a special federal border pass. I don’t think these federal border passes exist, but they could be used to go across the border to Mexico, for example.

The reason for this brouhaha and proposed $3.9 billion cost is that the terrorists involved in September 11, had an impressive array of fake ids and fake documents between them. There were 350 aliases. An off-shoot of this is that identity theft might be harder–or it could be easier.

Just to reiterate, people don’t have to get the REAL ID this year. THE PLAN IS IN THE WORKS, but from what I understand, states have to have a plan. Ohio, for example, has plans to start the stricter screening for a license in 2010. The regulations look a lot like the old regulations, but perhaps there are some extra layers I’m missing.

The photograph, by the way is of fake ids on a wall of Wet Willies in Savannah, Georgia. Thanks, Germany Jay for the pic. Maybe the government does have a point? I wonder if perhaps there is a name branding problem. What if the ids were called Elite IDs? Or Turbo IDs? Premier IDs? Platinum IDs? Something that doesn’t have a name that implies that the ids states are already passing out are fake. When I hear REAL IDS, it just sounds bogus to me. Maybe it’s just me.

For info about the states that have a beef right now with the government over this plan, read the AP article. It also gives more details.