SACRAMENTO (AP) — The U.S. Department of Homeland Security granted a last-minute extension giving California more time to comply with the federal Real ID Act that sets stricter standards on identification.
The state Department of Motor Vehicles said the federal agency will give California until Oct. 10 to comply with the rules. California was among several states where an exemption to the law was set to expire on Jan. 10.
“The department recognizes your efforts in enhancing the security of your jurisdiction’s driver’s licenses and identification cards,” Homeland Security officials said in a letter dated Tuesday.
The 2005 Real ID act imposes tougher requirements for proof of legal U.S. residency in order for state driver’s licenses to be valid for federal purposes. The law was passed in response to national security concerns after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
At least 19 other states recently received an extension of their exemptions, but the federal agency rejected requests for extensions from Missouri and Illinois, meaning driver’s licenses from those states cannot be accepted as ID at military bases and most other federal facilities.
It also could eventually mean those licenses won’t be accepted as identification for commercial airplane flights.
California’s extension gives the state time to implement a new law set to take effect on July 1. It will require new applicants for driver’s licenses to provide proof of California residency, though the DMV is still drawing up guidelines specifying what documents will be acceptable, spokesman Artemio Armenta said.
The agency said in a statement Wednesday that it will continue to work on complying with the federal law.
States initially were supposed to comply with the Real ID requirements by the end of 2009. Federal authorities have repeatedly delayed implementation to provide time for states to change their driver’s license procedures and make the necessary technological improvements.
The Homeland Security Department has said it plans to announce soon whether it will begin enforcing the Real ID requirements for airplane travel. The department has said it will provide advance notice of at least 120 days before barring people from flights who have driver’s licenses from states that are noncompliant or lack a waiver.