SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has granted a last-minute extension giving the state of California more time to comply with a federal Real ID Act, which sets stricter standards on identification.
The state Department of Motor Vehicles announced Wednesday that the federal agency would have until Oct. 10, 2016 to comply with the rules. California was among several states whose 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 compliance exemptions, but the agency recently 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 in an effort to meet the law. 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 originally were supposed to comply with the Real ID requirements by the end of 2009. Federal authorities have repeatedly delayed implementation to give 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 that it will provide at least 120-day advance notice before barring people from flights who have driver’s licenses from states that are noncompliant or lack a waiver.