As States Lag to Comply With 2005 ID Law, Washington Makes Moves

The federal REAL ID Act requires state driver’s licenses and ID cards to have security enhancements and to be issued to people who can prove they are legally in the United States.

by Rachel La Corte, The Associated Press / May 17, 2017

People in Washington state likely won’t have to worry next year about the identification they take to the airport after Gov. Jay Inslee signed a measure Tuesday seeking to make the state one of more than two dozen in compliance with federal identification requirements.

Washington and several other states have struggled for years to comply with the REAL ID Act, a 2005 federal law that requires state driver’s licenses and ID cards to have security enhancements and to be issued to people who can prove they are legally in the United States. 

The law was passed after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks to strengthen rules for identification needed at airports and federal facilities.

With a January deadline looming, lawmakers across the country have been pressed to scramble for legislative fixes so residents can board flights and travel without confusion. 

“This will help to ease problems at border crossings, airports, federal courthouses, and military bases where REAL ID compliant documents are required,” Inslee said before he signed the bill, adding that the measure ensures the “convenience and security of our citizens.”

Just 25 states and the District of Columbia are in compliance with the federal law, though most of the remaining states and territories have been granted extensions of various dates.