PA driver’s licenses won’t be federal IDs


Melanie Todd, Staff writer

Beginning on Jan. 30, 2018, residents will no longer be able to use their Pennsylvania driver’s licenses to enter federal facilities.

Pennsylvania had 11 years to comply with the Department of Homeland Security’s federal ID requirements. They will make an exception for people entering federal facilities to apply for Social Security or veteran’s benefits.

Beginning in January 2019, people will not be able to use their Pennsylvania driver’s licenses to board commercial airplanes.

“I’m frustrated that they had 11 years to do this and they didn’t,” said David Rinderle, Mercyhurst senior and Pennsylvania resident.

The 2005 REAL ID Act passed as a response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack in the United States. There are five states that have not complied yet.

“Beginning three years after the date of the enactment of this division, a Federal agency may not accept, for any official purpose, a driver’s license or identification card issued by a State to any person unless the State is meeting the requirements of this section,” states the REAL ID Act of 2005.

The law gave a three-year grace period in 2005. However, it has now been 11 years and Pennsylvania still has not complied.

“In Pennsylvania, which has issued about 9 million driver’s licenses and another 1.4 million photo ID cards, officials estimated five years ago that it could cost $250 million to $300 million to replace those licenses,” said the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

The act requires security features for the new license, such as anti-counterfeiting provisions. Additionally, the state must store the photographs and other ID information in a federal database.
Pennsylvania State Sen. Mike Folmer, who was the chief sponsor for Pennsylvania’s REAL ID Nonparticipation Act of 2011, spoke with the Pittsburgh Post Gazette further on this matter.

“I just believe the feds are wrong here (on the need for a uniform license for all states). It’s an unfunded mandate that we can’t afford at a time when we are having budget problems of our own,” Folmer said.

Folmer commended Pennsylvania’s current system for identification of an individual when they apply for a license or identification card.

“Making states share that kind of information with federal officials is encroachment on my freedom that the state shouldn’t allow,” Folmer said .

“It will be very inconvenient. I feel bad for people who don’t have a passport and will need to spend $70 to get one to even travel within the U.S.,” Rinderle said.

The Department of Homeland Security issued many extensions for states to comply with the act since 2007. However, last week ,letters informed officials in Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Maine, Oklahoma and South Carolina that no more extensions will be given unless steps are taken to comply.