AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Maine’s Secretary of State says they hope to begin issuing drivers licenses under the federal Real ID program in the summer of next year.
Last month the Legislature passed a law requiring the state to comply with federal Real ID, and the Governor signed it. The Department of Homeland Security has indicated it will give Maine a waiver extension now that the state has signaled it will comply with the law, although that extension been given yet.
Once the extension is granted, current Maine driver’s licenses will continue to be valid ID to get on airplanes for a few more years. But Secretary of State Matt Dunlap says they have to get the new system ready so people can begin replacing their licenses next year.
That process, he says, will involve adding computers and software, including facial recognition, and Dunlap says it could cost $2 million or more.
License holders will need to show proof of where they live, birth certificate or other documents to show they are a citizen or legally living in Maine.Those documents will be scanned into a computer database, kept by the Maine Bureau of Motor vehicles.
And while people will be able to “opt out” of Real ID, Dunlap thinks there will be a big demand for new licenses.
“If you plan on using your driver’s license for those purposes (travel or accessing federal facilities) you probably want to think about coming in and getting a new license and that will mean bringing back all those documents, getting them scanned and having a new credential issued to you that would be Real ID compliant,” said Dunlap.
License holders won’t be required to replace their licenses until the regular renewal date, but if that date is after October of 2020, the license would become non-compliant until a new one was issued.
Dunlap says the state typically issues about 220,000 licenses each year, including new licenses and renewals, meaning there could be heavy demand at DMV offices during the period before Real ID takes full effect.
Maine has more than 1 million active licenses and state ID’s.
If you want to learn more about Real ID, click here.