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Are You Ready for California’s REAL ID Federal Enforcement?

Nearing the expiration date of your California State driver’s license or identification card? Instead of heading to the DMV early, you may want to hold off until January 22, 2018 so you can apply for a REAL ID-compliant card.

Beginning on October 1, 2020, only REAL ID-compliant forms of identification as well as other federally approved forms can be used by TSA for flying domestic, entering federal facilities, and visiting military bases.

Thankfully, if your ID or driver’s license doesn’t expire for another couple of years, you can continue using it until October 1, 2020. In lieu of ID cards and driver’s licenses that are REAL ID-compliant, you may also use your U.S. passport, U.S. passport card, military ID, and other TSA approved identification.

Do You Need A REAL ID-compliant Form of Identification to Drive?

Fortunately, not having a REAL ID-compliant form of identification won’t prevent you from driving, voting, registering to vote, and applying for federal benefits (for more information, check out Homeland Security’s REAL ID FAQ page).

Is California the Only State Effected by the REAL ID Act?  

Back in 2005, the REAL ID Act was established as a way to set mandatory, minimum security standards in which all states must abide by, an act created under the law, “Emergency Supplemental Appropriation for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Tsunami Relief, 2005.” In the past 12 years since its passing, 26 states have met federal standards while the other 24, including the entire west coast, are either under review or have filed extensions.

What Do You Need to Bring to the DMV for a Real ID?

When applying for a REAL ID-complaint driver’s license or identification, you must visit your DMV office (yes, an in-person visit) and bring evidence proving your identity, social security number, residency, and, if applicable, a document proving your name change. The following types of documents are acceptable:

  • Proof of Identity
    • S. Birth Certificate
    • Valid U.S. Passport
    • Foreign Passport with an approved I-94 form
    • Permanent resident card
    • Employment Authorization document
  • Proof of Social Security Number
    • Social Security card or
    • W-2
    • Paystub with SSN
  • California Residency Document (two documents)
    • Rental agreement
    • Mortgage bill or any other bill with your address on it
    • School document
    • Employment
  • Name Change Document
    • Marriage certificate
    • Divorce Decree
    • Any other court document proving name change

Is Your AB60 ID Safe from the REAL ID Act?

When Assembly Bill 60 (otherwise known as AB60) went into effect on January 1, 2015, undocumented immigrants could apply for driver’s licenses without presenting proof of lawful presence. Over 905,000 driver’s licenses have been issued under AB60, giving thousands of undocumented immigrants the freedom to drive in California.

How will the REAL ID Act effect this groundbreaking bill? The good news is that it won’t! Your AB60 license is safe.

Remember: if you know someone who has suffered from a car accident through no fault of their own and is undocumented, Wilshire Law Firm will represent them regardless of their immigrant status!

As a New Driver, Should I Get a Driver’s License Now or Wait Until January?

You’ve passed drivers ed, you have the hours you need behind the wheel, and now you’re itching to finally get your driver’s license. But, the REAL ID Act goes into effect in January. So, should you wait until then to get your driver’s license?

The first thing to consider is that purchasing a REAL ID-compliant license is optional. As mentioned above, as long as you have a passport or another TSA approved form of identification, you won’t need a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license. But, if you don’t have a passport and only plan on traveling within the United States, purchasing a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license may be in your best interest. There’s a big difference between spending $33 on a license and over $250 for a passport.

Once again, we want to reiterate that retaining a non-compliant form of identification will not affect your status as a driver or voter. If you plan to travel by airplane and are uncomfortable bringing your passport, then a REAL ID-compliant form of identification is absolutely necessary. For more information, call your local DMV about what you can do to better prepare for 2020.


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