Waiver from fed ID law expiring, but Illinois licenses still good to fly

(CHICAGO) Although Illinois’ exemption from a federal ID law is expiring in just weeks, residents will still be able to get through airports with an Illinois drivers license, according to the state.

The department notified Illinois late Tuesday that its request for an extension of the federal “Real ID” requirements would be denied, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting. The state had been granted two one-year extensions.

Illinois Secretary of State spokesman Dave Druker said he doesn’t expect any major changes for Illinois residents for another 18 to 24 months. That might include additional security at airports, and changes in documents accepted at the Illinois Secretary of State’s office.

“People will be able to get on an airplane next summer with an Illinois drivers license,” Druker said. “They may have to go through some extra measures of security. We don’t know what that might be. It might be another line. It might be people asking them questions.”

The Department of Homeland Security will give the public at least 120 days notice before any changes are made that might affect travel planning.

Missouri, New Mexico and Washington also were notified this week about their extension being denied, although lawmakers in New Mexico have been told the state might get another extension. Illinois’ extension formally expires on Jan. 10.

Passed by Congress in 2005, the Real ID Act enacted the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation that the federal government set national standards for issuing IDs and driver’s licenses.

Illinois complies with about four-fifths of the federal law, Druker said, but the state needs another $50 to $60 million to meet the rest of the guidelines. One requirement includes issuing just one form of identification, an ID or a driver’s license, but not both. Another requires the state to take a resident’s picture first, not last, when getting an ID or license. It also seeks more-frequent expiration dates after age 65 in order to update pictures and information as a security measure.

There will not be any sort of physical change to the Illinois driver’s license, Druker says. The state’s enactment of the Real ID program consists solely of security and protocol changes.

“You have to make updates and improvements at every step, but it’s not like what a national license would look like,” Druker said.

Procedures for issuing Illinois drivers licenses do not fully comply with federal law. | AP file photo