© 2024 WRVO Public Media
NPR News for Central New York
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

State officials urge drivers to get their REAL ID ahead of May deadline

Ellen Abbott

State and local officials are urging New Yorkers who haven’t gotten a REAL ID compliant driver's license to get one now. This spring, this kind of ID will be one of the only ways to board a plane.

You’ll know you have an enhanced ID if there is a star or a flag on your New York State license. If not, you’ll need a passport or other federally approved ID card to be able to board a plane after May 3, 2023. The State Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner, Mark Schroeder, said out of the almost 16 million people with driver’s licenses in New York, only about 6 million have the enhanced version. That’s not enough, said Schroeder.

"I’d like to get it up to ten million people who have a license that is REAL ID compliant," he said.

The deadline is more than six months away. So why the big push now? There is some very specific paperwork needed like original birth certificates, marriage licenses and divorce decrees to get the enhanced ID, which can be time-consuming to get, according to Madison County Clerk Michael Keville.

"Because you may think you have everything they need," Keville said. "I’ve seen this all the time. People have a copy of a birth certificate or they have a divorce decree or marriage certificate and then they have to go to Virginia to get their first marriage certificate."

Keville said there have been deadlines before with this, but he expects the current May 3 date to stick.

"The original deadline I want to say was like 2011 and 2012," Keville said. "They just kind of kicked it down the road, and kicked it down the road. The last time this ramped up was 2019. The only reason it got kicked down the road was a pandemic. If we can get through this election cycle without a re-up of the pandemic, we’ll have clear sailing the next couple of years and this deadline is not going away.”

Keville said it can be especially difficult for anyone who has changed their name, because there has to be proof of a link between a person’s current name from the birth certificate. This is a direct result of enhanced security spurred by 9/11 according to Bart Johnson, TSA’s Upstate Federal Security Director.

"It allows TSA to have the confidence that the individual coming to a checkpoint to get on a plane, is the actual person they are portraying to be,” Johnson said.

Learn more about the REAL ID and what documents you need to get yours

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.