California, MD asked in Civil Rights and Constitutional Law for California

Q: Do I have to participate in the Federal Government's "Real ID" in order to renew my MD drivers license?

MD sent me an email saying I have to enroll in "Real ID" in order to renew my drivers license. I don't want to participate in Real ID.

2 Lawyer Answers
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Consumer Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Under California law, participation in the Federal Government's "Real ID" program has become a requirement for renewing your driver's license if you wish to use it for certain federal purposes. The Real ID Act, passed by Congress, establishes minimum security standards for license issuance and production. It prohibits federal agencies from accepting for certain purposes driver’s licenses and identification cards from states not meeting the Act’s minimum standards.

If you choose not to obtain a Real ID, you can still renew your driver's license in the form of a non-Real ID license. However, this non-Real ID license will not be accepted for federal purposes, such as boarding domestic flights or entering secure federal facilities, starting from the enforcement date set by the Department of Homeland Security. Instead, you would need to use another form of compliant identification, like a passport, for these activities.

The choice to participate in the Real ID program is up to you, but it's important to consider how you plan to use your driver's license in the future. If your activities require federal identification and you prefer not to carry multiple forms of ID, obtaining a Real ID-compliant license may be beneficial. Ultimately, the decision should align with your personal needs and how you anticipate using your identification for federal purposes.

Tim Akpinar
Tim Akpinar
  • Little Neck, NY

A: It's usually a matter of choice, depending on the person's needs. State DMV offices usually outline the features of each license type, leaving it to the applicant to decide. Good luck

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