AUGUSTA – There has been rumors since 2005 and now it is finally almost here. Starting on January 22nd, 2018, Maine driver’s licenses can no longer be used as a form of identification for boarding on commercial flights because of the Real ID mandate.
Passed in 2005 by congress. States are now being required to comply with the act. A law that is changing the requirements for state driver’s licenses and id cards to be accepted by the federal government for official purposes.
“The federal government mandated that some of the federal agencies will not be able to use IDs that are not compliant to the Real ID standards,” said Airport Director, Anthony Caruso.
Maine is one of those that is not. It could cost Maine at least $1 million to comply with Real ID standards.
“Because this was optional thing,” said Maine Secretary of State, Matthew Dunlap, “States didn’t have to comply with it. There’s no federal funding attached to it and it was going to cost us a lot of money to comply.”
It is not just the costs that is concerning but the invasion of privacy. Real ID will have personal information on U.S. Citizens scanned into a database. It will contain copies of a person’s personal items such as, a social security, address and birth certificate. Legislatures are worried that this could lead to identity theft.
“You can do a lot of damage before they even realize it,” said Dunlap, “The easiest way to protect people from losing that information – is to not have it in the first place.”
And because of costs, purchasing a passport may not be possible.
“The economics are pretty tough for some folks especially for those facing economic uncertainty in their own lives,” said Dunlap, “And they are trying to balance paying rent or buying groceries. It seems that some people are now going to be left out of the traveling mix because they can’t get the credentials they require for a passport.”
If a state is not moving towards compliance by 2018 people will not be able to use their state credentials to board the aircraft.
“We’ll need identification that is compliant such as a passport, military idea or things like that,” said Caruso.
Bangor International Airport is already informing people at airport security.
“We’ll continue to obviously monitor it closely and help get the messaging out there,” he said, “So that the domestic traveling public will be prepared for January of next year.”