OKLAHOMA CITY — The state is on track to get its driver licenses up to federal standards by the end of April 2020, but that’s about six months after the federal deadline.
Federal officials gave state leaders until October to issue federally compliant identification cards under the Real ID law.
David Ostrowe, the state’s secretary of digital transformation and administration, said he expects the Department of Homeland Security will allow state officials one final yearlong extension to reach compliance.
As long as the state receives that extension, Ostrowe said Oklahomans will have about a six-month window in 2020. Residents will be able to obtain a federally complaint ID card either at a Department of Public Safety office or a local tag agency.
“The goal is to make sure we don’t have any lines,” he said.
Once the extension expires, any Oklahomans without federally compliant ID who are trying to visit military bases or fly domestically will be turned away. That’s because their state identification doesn’t stand up to federal requirements adopted more than a decade ago.
Those without a federally compliant cards will have to flash a U.S. passport or another valid form of federal ID if they want to access military bases and federal facilities, inside or outside the state.
Oklahoma lawmakers long bucked the Real ID law — even going so far as to pass a law prohibiting the Department of Public Safety, which oversees driver licenses, from complying with it. Signed by President George W. Bush in 2005 after 9/11, the federal law seeks to fortify state procedures to confirm people’s identities and to ensure that states are not giving licenses to terrorists.
Under Oklahoma’s law, lawmakers allow the option to decline a federally compliant ID card.
Compliant IDs will contain a gold star, said Sarah Stewart, a spokeswoman with the Department of Public Safety. She said officials plan to start issuing them by April 30, 2020.
“The deal is you don’t have to get a Real ID either,” Stewart said. “You can get a noncompliant (ID). It’s totally up to your needs and your preferences.”
The two cards will cost the same, but the federally compliant one requires more documentation, she said.
That includes proof of residence, valid identification documents like a birth certificates and proof of all name changes, she said.
Another big difference, Ostrowe said, is Oklahomans won’t leave with a hard plastic driver license any more. All information will be sent to a central location where a card is printed and mailed.
Ostrowe said the costs of implementing Real ID are “astronomical.”
At one point, the federal government offered to help pay for the implementation, but lawmakers rejected the help. In 2017, when Gov. Mary Fallin signed Real ID implementation into law, Oklahomans were expected to have to pay millions.
The state raised the price of driver licenses several dollars to fund implementation, Ostrowe said.
Stecklein covers the Oklahoma Statehouse for CNHI's newspapers and websites. Reach her at email@example.com.