CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- After all the time, more than $2 million of funds, and hassle for drivers renewing their licenses, West Virginia has little to show for being one of the first states to comply with federal Real ID mandates, Division of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Steve Dale told members of the House Finance Committee Thursday.
"Airports are treating all 50 states the same. West Virginians aren't put in an express line, just because we've qualified," Dale said.
Enacted by Congress in 2005 in response to the Sept. 11 attacks, where terrorists used false driver's licenses to board planes, the law mandates that states require multiple proof of identity, including birth certificates, Social Security cards, two proofs of residency, and frequently marriage certificates or divorce decrees, in order for residents to get or renew driver's licenses.
At the time, Congress set a 2008 deadline for states to comply, after which, persons without Real ID licenses would not be able to board commercial aircraft, or enter federal courthouses or other federal government facilities.
To date, Dale said, West Virginia is one of 21 states in compliance with Real ID.
However, as many states -- including neighboring Virginia and Pennsylvania -- balked at compliance, the deadline has been pushed back and modified multiple times, including a revision to allow valid passports to be used in lieu of Real ID to board planes, he said.
"The earliest we've heard for enforcing it at airports would be 2016, but again, if you have a passport, that also qualifies," Dale said.
As a result of the delays, Dale said the DMV is now offering two types of driver's licenses, including one that is not Real ID compliant, but requires only a current valid license, the DMV renewal notice, and one proof of residency for renewal.
One advantage of the non-compliant license is that the new license is issued on-site at DMV offices, while a Real ID license is produced off-site and mailed to the driver at a later date, he said.
Real ID licenses require special security features, and it would be too costly to upgrade machines at all 24 DMV locations to produce those licenses, Dale noted.
Some drivers are uncomfortable with the idea of being issued a temporary license, he said.
"A lot of people like the personal satisfaction of, by golly, I've got it in my hands, and I don't have to come back for another five years," Dale said, explaining why some drivers prefer to get a non-Real ID license, which is issued immediately.
Dale also told the House Finance Committee that the DMV will have a few legislative proposals this session, including a bill to extend the driver's license renewal cycle from five to eight years.
Reach Phil Kabler at ph...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.