As predicted 10 days ago, the federal government has lifted states’ REAL ID deadline. For states which have procrastinated and/or screwed up their department of motor vehicle’s (DMV) implementation of the federal REAL ID mandate to issue enhanced security drivers licenses, the news is at least one helpful impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Originally, there was an October 1, 2020 deadline and California was featured as the procrastinator poster child with literally millions of drivers who have not yet applied for, nor been issued the new licenses.
With state and local officials curtailing, even prohibiting crowds at state capitols, sports groups planning fan-less games and golf tournaments, even cancelling the remainder of their seasons, how can California DMV continue to serve nearly 100,000 people daily at field offices across the state?
In fact they weren’t going to. Prior to President Trump’s announcement yesterday, California last week eliminated DMV walk in appointments and were only allowing processing for in person DMV visits through their online appointments systems. This all but formally conceded California’s inability to make the October deadline.
The consequences of not having REAL ID approved licenses by October were severe. You’d be unable to enter federal buildings, and most significantly get past TSA security at airports. With some eight million California residents still expected to have to visit field offices for the new license, and just over six months before the October deadline, this was a debacle waiting to happen.
So the news from the Trump administration yesterday was welcomed with a sigh of relief, especially in Sacramento. No word yet on the new deadline, and perhaps like many things in this new pandemic era, it is “to be determined”.