By Rachel La Corte / Associated Press
OLYMPIA — Washington is among 17 states that have been granted a yearlong extension from the enforcement of federal requirements for state driver’s licenses and ID cards, state officials said Wednesday.
The news comes a few weeks after the state had initially been notified by the Department of Homeland Security that it was under a grace period through Jan. 22 as the federal government continued its review of states’ progress. Now the state — along with neighboring states of Oregon and Idaho — has an extension through Oct. 10, 2018, according to DHS’s REAL ID website .
Christine Anthony, a spokeswoman for the Washington state Department of Licensing, said that the decision “gives our customers more time to decide if they will need a new type of identification that is acceptable for federal purposes.”
The federal law requires state driver’s licenses and ID cards to have security enhancements and to be issued to people who can prove they are legally in the United States. It was passed after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks to strengthen rules for identification needed at airports and federal facilities. Washington lawmakers passed a measure this year creating a two-tiered licensing system that was signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee.
Washington state already offers, but does not mandate, enhanced driver’s licenses and IDs that require proof of U.S. citizenship and are valid under the federal law. Starting in July 2018, the state’s standard licenses — which aren’t in line with the federal requirements — will be marked to indicate they are not REAL ID compliant and thus not acceptable for certain purposes by federal authorities.
However, Anthony noted that residents will have a choice of which license they want and are not required to get the enhanced licenses. Those with the non-compliant licenses will eventually need additional documentation — such as a passport, permanent resident card or military ID — to board domestic commercial flights and for other federal purposes.