We are a little more than one year out, but are you ready? Ready to get your new Real ID Act “compliant” license from the state of Missouri?

A recent article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch tells the tale of Carol Neumann, a 91-year-old woman from the St. Louis area. To make a long story short, Carol still drives and travels with her husband Marvin, 92. They have been married for 64 years and still fly to visit friends and family across the country.

Missouri’s current driver’s license does not meet the federal requirements of Real ID Act of 2005. As of October of 2020, you will not be able to board an airliner, visit military bases or nuclear power plant without a valid and complying ID.

The idea behind Real ID Act is to “make it tough for terrorists to obtain identification documents under false premises without a complying license.”

According to Wikipedia, “The Real ID Act of 2005, Pub.L. 109–13, 119 Stat. 302, enacted May 11, 2005, is an Act of Congress that modifies U.S. federal law pertaining to security, authentication, and issuance procedures standards for state driver's licenses and identity documents, as well as various immigration issues pertaining to terrorism.”

The Real ID Act is separate from the USA Patriot Act that President George W. Bush signed into law on October 2001. It took members of Congress four more years to demand a “valid” ID to travel in country, but they did.

You now have the option to receive a compliant license or use the old standby non-compliant license from the Missouri Department of Revenue when you receive your driver’s license renewal notice. A new Missouri license costs $45 for a six-year renewal.

If you do decide to opt out of the compliant license, you can still travel by air in the U.S. with a valid passport. The cost of a new passport is $145 plus another $60 if you wish to have the process expedited.

Go to your local post office or the Columbia Public Library for the application or go online to fill out the questionnaire. For a library appointment call 573-443-3161.

Carol Neumann received such a notice and decided to get a compliant license. To do so, she needed to have a U.S. birth certificate or a valid passport, a Social Security card and two documents proving she was a Missouri resident. She also needed proof of her name change, a marriage certificate.

There are a few strange rules concerning some of these documents. According to the Post-Dispatch story, the marriage license needs to have a raised seal.

In 1955 in Wisconsin, where Carol and Marvin were married, they did not get a raised seal on their marriage certificate. Poor Carol had to write the county where she was married, order a duplicate copy with a raised seal and send in an additional fee.

The process took more time than necessary for this fine citizen to obtain a complying license. She visited the Missouri Department of Motor Vehicles at least three times before an “official” would issue her temporary compliant license. 

So, why did it take 15 years for Missouri to comply with the law? Because some members of our state’s General Assembly were afraid of privacy issues concerning the information embedded in the coding on the back of the license.

Post-Dispatch reporter Bill McClellan asked a valid question: Why go to such lengths to validate a person’s identification? Has Missouri been targeted by terrorists planning to destroy the United States?

My question is simple: Can’t a citizen with all the proper documentation still be converted to radical Islam or become a dangerous white nationalist?

Here is the rub: Do you have the documentation to get a compliant license? And if your driver license expires after October 2020, as mine does, do I have to get a new license so I can fly to see my family in Florida, California and New York?

The short answer is “yes.”

Like McClellan, I could say something snarky about the federal government’s requirements for such stringent identification requirements so I can board an airline to visit relatives, but I won’t.


About opinions in the Missourian: The Missourian’s Opinion section is a public forum for the discussion of ideas. The views presented in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Missourian or the University of Missouri. If you would like to contribute to the Opinion page with a response or an original topic of your own, visit our submission form.

But if you do fly, even if you are thinking of flying for business or pleasure, I would not wait to get a compliant license. I do not know if a TSA agent in another state will accept the temporary paper license from Missouri. I guess we will have to wait and see.

David Rosman is an editor, writer and professional speaker. You can read more of David’s commentaries at ColumbiaMissourian.com and InkandVoice.com.

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