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Washington Legislature Considers Real ID Bill

Washington Department of Licensing

In about a year — January 22, 2018 — Washington residents will not be able to use their regular drivers licenses to board an airplane. That license doesn’t meet the federal minimum security standards established by the federal Real ID Act. That was approved by Congress in 2005 as a reaction to the 9/11 attacks.

This week the Washington state House and Senate Transportation Committees each considered bills that would require the standard license to be marked not sufficient for federal ID purposes. They would also lower the cost for buying an enhanced version of the drivers license that does pass federal muster.

Washington is one of eight states that faces the 2018 federal deadline for air travel ID. The state has long had privacy concerns about the type of information the federal government has sought and so it hasn’t changed its standard license to satisfy the feds.  

But it has created an enhanced version of the drivers’ license - twice the cost of the standard license, or $108 for six years - that does meet federal identification standards.

So with the January 2018 deadline approaching, Tony Sermonti from the Washington Department of Licensing says there are many other forms of identification that will allow you to get on a commercial airliner or to get into a federal facility or a nuclear power plant.

“Your passport book works. Permanent resident cards work. Military ID cards are acceptable. Border crossing cards of the few different types. TWIC cards, transportation worker identification cards, are federally acceptable.”

But the standard license, the one you’re probably carrying now in your wallet or purse, isn’t federally acceptable.

The bill’s sponsor, Mercer Island Democratic Representative Judy Clibborn, says she doesn’t want to force people to get an enhanced license or any of the other forms of ID if they don’t plan on flying. She says her bill has tried to minimize the amount of change to the state’s current drivers licensing system.

“If you have a standard drivers license, you can drive. And I think that’s one of the things that has been really important through all of the 10 years that we’ve been working on this bill. That’s something everyone felt was important for this state,” Clibborn said.

The bill will also reduce the cost of the enhanced license, for four years, from $108 to $90.

Our thanks to TVW for the audio for this story.