Real ID PhotoSPRINGFIELD — Drivers could apply for a driver’s license that meets federal ID requirements and makes it easier for them to fly under a plan passed through the Senate Executive Committee today by Majority Caucus Whip Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago).

Martinez’s initiative creates a two-tiered REAL ID system under which applicants for drivers’ licenses and identification cards may choose to apply for either a REAL ID-compliant license/ID card or a non-compliant license/ID card.

“What’s good about having a two-tiered system is that it gives people a choice,” Martinez said. “If someone knows they aren’t going to be flying or choose not to be REAL ID compliant, then there is another option available for them.”

Illinois has been taking strides to become fully REAL ID-compliant and has an extension from the federal government to become compliant by October 2017. However, the Department of Homeland Security has said that by January, 2018, passengers with a driver’s license issued in a state that is not compliant with the REAL ID Act will have to show an alternative form of identification to board a plane.

Under Martinez’s proposal, applicants for REAL ID-compliant identification must present documents including a certified copy of their birth certificate and immigration documents or a U.S. passport. Non-compliant licenses and ID cards will be issued pursuant to current requirements.

“The two-tiered system has been used successfully in other states that have achieved full REAL ID compliance,” Martinez said. “It’s imperative that Illinois has a system in place that is efficient and responsive to the needs of the people of our state.”

States such as Arizona, Nevada, West Virginia and Wisconsin offer the two options. In Wisconsin, only 22 percent of citizens have chosen to apply for the REAL ID-compliant card. Wisconsin officials have stated that many citizens who do not fly or visit federal facilities have opted for the noncompliant card.

Martinez’s legislation, Senate Bill 674, is supported by the Illinois Secretary of State’s office.

“This legislation gives customers the right to choose between applying for a REAL ID-compliant DL/ID and a noncompliant DL/ID,” said Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White. “If you are someone who doesn’t use air travel or have a reason to visit a federal facility or military base, or prefer to use a U.S. passport which itself is considered REAL ID compliant, the noncompliant card may be a viable option.”

The federal REAL ID Act, passed by Congress in 2005, establishes standards for issuing identification cards and prevents federal agencies from accepting identification cards from state’s that have not implemented the act’s requirements.

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