Thank You Coronavirus! Real ID Cards Shelved Indefinitely

Were you ever on board with the whole Real ID card? You know, the identification/driver’s license you would one day need for airline flights that a driver’s license used to do? This involved the Department of Motor Vehicles. Anything involved with the DMV should be put off at all costs. The prospect of waiting in line sometimes for hours to get something you needed but really didn’t. The image of that was so abhorrent you kept putting it off. Well, there’s finally one good thing you can say came from the coronavirus. It has forced the Real ID to be shelved indefinitely.

The Real ID card deadline was looming

We don’t know whether “indefinitely” means forever but for now we’ll be grateful for what time we get. The Transportation Security Administration’s deadline was looming. October 1, 2020, was when you needed to have it and you knew what that would be like. 

For now, at least there is no new deadline set. Here’s what Donald Trump said today, “We are postponing the deadline for compliance with the Real ID requirement at a time when we are asking Americans to maintain social distancing.”

Social distancing and the DMV would never happen together

Stanton, California DMV | Getty

With the whole social distancing thing and invariably long lines you get at the DMV it stood to reason this wasn’t going to work out well. Many times even with indoor seating there are lines out of the front door of the DMV. Even without the coronavirus, the chances were good you’d catch something. Cold, flu, dizzy spells; you just never know. 

Without a Real ID, another form of ID other than a standard driver’s license was necessary. If you travel a fair amount and have a current passport then you were in luck. But your normal driver’s license or an expired passport would do you no good. So most Americans needed to go through the DMV drill.

So you know where this all came from Congress passed the Real ID Act in 2005. Just like the rest of us even though it was mandated by Congress states kept putting it off. Everybody is doing three jobs nowadays anyway. Adding this extra burden to what states are already overwhelmed having to do was just too much.

Can you believe one-third of Americans have a Real ID card?

A security guard directs a man to the back of a long line outside the DMV office in South Los Angeles on Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2017. The California Department of Motor Vehicles experienced a statewide computer outage Tuesday morning, disrupting many in-office services to customers. (Photo by Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Most states only recently got it in gear and started setting up and issuing Real IDs. It is estimated that about one-third of Americans already have it. Kudos to them! Maybe these people have a ton of time on their hands? Or, maybe their state’s DMV works better than most? Whatever the reason we congratulate you. For the rest of us, it will be hanging around our necks for the foreseeable future. 

For now, it doesn’t look like a new deadline will be coming any time soon even though the President said a new deadline will be announced: “very soon.” We hope not. Until then there is a lot we all need to do just to get back to what used to be normal, and nobody knows when that will be either.