Real ID coming to Missouri March 25th after years of delays

Published: Mar. 4, 2019 at 6:30 PM CST
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It was one of the many measures passed in the wake of 9/11 by the federal government to fight terrorism by creating state-issued identification cards that are more difficult to counterfeit.

They are called Real ID's, available in most states and marked with a star in the corner of the drivers license. Mandatory if you don't have a valid passport or military ID and plan on boarding a plane or visiting a federal facility like Ft. Leonard Wood.

The federal law was passed in 2005, and it took the Missouri legislature 12 years and a number of deadline extensions to make it happen.

But on March 25 Missouri will finally start issuing federally-compliant driver's licenses and ID cards and no one will be happier than the airline industry.

"The last few years airports across the country have been stuck in the middle between everybody who flies, the federal government and the state government," explained Kent Boyd, the public information officer for the Springfield-Branson National Airport. "It seems like the state government and the federal government don't quite talk to one another. The public doesn't know a lot so they come running to the airport for information and unfortunately we're in the same position as the public. It's certainly been one of the longest ongoing pains in the rear that I can think of. If this goes away, I'll be really happy."

The Missouri Department of Revenue is not wanting everybody to rush to their license offices on March 25th though. Thanks to the deadline extensions, non-compliant licenses can still be used for air travel and federal facility admittance until late 2020.

"The most important date that people need to understand is the October 1, 2020 date," explained Joey Plaggenberg, the director of the drivers license bureau for the Mo. Department of Revenue. "On that date residents of Missouri will be required to a Real ID-compliant driver's license or ID card or other acceptable such as a passport in order to board federally-regulated domestic flights or when they're accessing federal facilities including military bases or federal courthouses. For any other things such as regular ordinary driving or for purposes of showing your ID to a clerk at a grocery store, the non-compliant ID is just as good as the Real ID license."

So while it may be a pain, we have to remember the important reason behind it.

"I think we're so far removed from 9/11 at this point that people tend to forget why we have checkpoints at airports," Boyd explained. "I hear that on a semi-regular basis. 'Why do we have to have Real ID?' Well, because 9/11 happened. Those threats are out there. Some of them have been foiled, some of them never materialized. But it's a constant threat."

"Creating a Real ID program in Missouri will allow us to insure that if-and-when an individual uses fraudulent means to obtain a Missouri driver's license we're able to look back and take proactive steps to stop that individual or stop that process where fraudulent licenses are being issued," Plaggenberg added.