Real ID Deadline Looms Htk Htk Htk Htk Htjk
Concord — New Hampshire driver’s licenses will continue to be acceptable identification for those boarding flights for at least five months, and if the Legislature changes state law, they will probably remain acceptable until each license expires.
A recent New York Times article about the Department of Homeland Security growing impatient with states that haven’t gotten in line with the federal Real ID law, which sets certain standards for driver’s licenses, led to a flurry of online concern. Many worried New Hampshire fliers might be turned away at airports when returning from Christmas vacation because the state hasn’t adopted Real ID.
Not so, say state officials. This past fall, the federal government granted New Hampshire an extension from Real ID requirements until June 1, and that extension still stands, confirmed Michael Todd, spokesman for the New Hampshire Department of Safety.
The extension also covers use of the current driver’s license as ID for certain federal facilities, such as military bases, that otherwise require a Real ID-compliant license.
Several states, including Minnesota, New Mexico and Washington, have not been granted extensions. In theory, their residents could be turned away from airports as of Jan. 10 if they don’t have some type of ID other than their driver’s license — which is what prompted the Times story.
What happens in New Hampshire after June 1 mostly depends on the fate of House Bill 1616, which would create a driver’s license “compliant with federal identification law.” State officials said the Transportation Safety Administration has told officials that if the bill passes, current driver’s licenses would stay acceptable as ID until they expire, which usually happens five years after they are issued.
If the bill becomes law, it would allow New Hampshire residents getting a driver’s license or a non-driving ID to choose whether they want one like the current design, which would “bear an approved security marking indicating that it was not issued in compliance with Public Law 109-13 (the Real ID law) and is therefore not acceptable for federal identification purposes,” or one that follows Real ID standards.
The Real ID driver’s license in New Hampshire would cost no more than the current license. A separate part of the bill proposed an “enhanced” license, carrying a machine-readable chip, that would cost $80, which is $30 more than the current price.
Vermont has been issuing Real IDs for two years, though some motorists have opted not to get one as their licenses come up for renewal.
Aside from appearance, a major difference with the Real ID license is that data, such as name, birthdate and address, could become part of a national database. That has spurred opposition to the plan based on privacy concerns and claims of federal overreach.
Proponents argue that Real ID is necessary to reduce identity theft and fraud, and enhance national security.
Real ID has been controversial ever since Congress passed it in 2005 as part of laws designed to combat terrorism. It was originally scheduled to become mandatory in 2008 and has been repeatedly delayed.