BUFFALO, N.Y. — There isn’t panic in greater Buffalo about the national transition to Real ID driver’s licenses.
But there is serious concern.
“In Erie County, we’re looking to renew approximately 136,000 people for their driver’s license, so it’s a high renewal year,” Erie County Clerk Michael Kearns said.
And many of those renewals are expected to be for Real ID licenses. Come October 1, a Real ID license will be among the required forms of identification to pass through airport security. The others are enhanced licenses, passports and federal ID, such as military IDs.
Four years after the attacks of 9/11, Congress passed a federal law requiring a tough and uniform set of standards for driver’s licenses. And while states have had years to get ready for this transition, some are struggling.
NBC reports Oklahoma won’t start issuing Read ID licenses until April. Oregon won’t begin until July.
It’s believed fully two-thirds of America’s licensed drivers have licenses that are not Real ID-compliant. The CEO of the Airport Council has publicly called for a delay of the October deadline. There is no signal that the US Department of Homeland Security is interested in postponing.
Kearns says a year-plus push to get Erie County residents moving toward Real I-D has paid off. His primary worry is about people who may put off getting a Real ID license until the deadline is near.
But Kearns says, “I promise you this, if we in Erie County find that the lines get too overwhelming, I will extend hours and I will open up at more locations on Saturday to meet the need of the public.”
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