Governor to temporarily close driver licence offices

Governor Greg Abbott today announced that Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Driver License Offices across the state are closing immediately. This temporary closure will not apply to those seeking an initial Commercial Driver License (CDL).

It might be time to check the status and expiration date of your drivers’ license.

Kellie Early, district director for State Representative Andrew Murr in Kerr County, said she has been getting calls from people who are going to renew their driver’s licenses and they are not aware of some new requirements.

The Drivers License division of the Texas Department of Public Safety website has a lengthy list of documents that are proof of citizenship or lawful presence, identity, Texas residency, one’s Social Security number, vehicle registration and proof of insurance.

Some are listed as “primary” or “secondary” or “supporting.”

Depending on one’s status as a Texas resident, it seems prudent, from those lists, to have with you, for a trip to the drivers license office, your original or certified birth certificate and/or unexpired U.S. passport in addition to the license being renewed.

The website says it is possible to make an appointment online, instead of appearing at the office, taking a number and waiting.

The website also says if you are 79 years of age or older and hold a driver’s license or ID card, you must renew in person at a drivers’ license office. Call the DPS or visit the website for more information.

The Texas DPS website says it is protecting the citizens of Texas by only licensing individuals who are properly identified and can demonstrate their ability to safely operate a motor vehicle on public roadways.

The United States Congress passed the REAL ID Act in 2005 in response to the terrorist attacks on 9/11 (2001).

The REAL ID Act requires states to adopt and implement uniform standards for the issuance and production of state-issued driver licenses and identification cards if they are to be accepted as identity documents by the federal government.

This Act strengthens the integrity and security of state-issued cards in an effort to reduce identity fraud and terrorism.

Beginning Oct. 1, 2020, only state-issued driver licenses and identification cards that are fully compliant with the REAL ID Act will be accepted for official federal government purposes, such as boarding domestic flights, or entering secure federal buildings.

Kerrville area residents may have more need of compliant IDs because of airplane flights than the other scenarios. But there is a deadline next year, and it’s better to be prepared.

What compliant cards look like

Texas began issuing REAL ID compliant cards in October 2016.

These are marked with a gold circle with an inset star, in the upper right-hand corner.

All Texas driver licenses and identification cards, both compliant (star) and non-compliant (no star) are valid until the expiration date shown on the card.

If you replaced or renewed your card after Oct. 10, 2016, and have a gold star in the right-hand corner, your card is REAL ID compliant and no further action is required on your part.

You may continue to use your compliant card for federal identification purposes until it expires.

If your card does not have the star, you can continue to use the card after Oct. 1, 2020, but it will only be accepted for state-related purposes, such as driving (driver license only), banking, and voting.

It will not be accepted as ID for federal purposes – including boarding domestic airline flights.

For added information on the REAL ID Act, how it may impact you, and renewing or replacing your card, the DPS’s “Frequently Asked Questions” are below.

1. What is REAL ID?

REAL ID is a coordinated effort by the states and the federal government to combat terrorism, identity theft, and other crimes by strengthening the accuracy and security of the driver license and identification card issuance process.

The REAL ID Act was part of the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and the Tsunami Relief Act; and passed by the U.S. Congress in 2005.

2. How did the REAL ID Act impact the Texas driver license and identification card issuance process?

The REAL ID Act established new minimum issuance standards, including:

• Requiring proof of identity, date of birth, social security number, lawful status, and primary residence address;

• Verifying authenticity of documents presented for issuance;

• Incorporating additional security features into the card;

• And increasing security and privacy of personal information collected during the issuance process.

The Texas driver license and ID card issuance process is compliant with these standards. They are not based upon age, but for providing for the security of the driver license and identification card issuance process.

3. Is Texas compliant with the REAL ID Act?

Yes, Texas has implemented all the security standards required by the REAL ID Act and began issuing compliant cards on Oct. 10, 2016. The Texas REAL ID compliant-card is marked with a circle with an inset star in the upper right corner of the card.

4. How does Texas complying with the REAL ID Act benefit me?

Texans may use their current driver license or identification card for federal identification purposes for boarding domestic flights, entering federal facilities, and other official federal purposes.

5. What would have happened if Texas had chosen not to comply with the REAL ID Act?

After Oct. 1, 2020, Texas DL/ID cards would not be accepted for federal identification purposes, and Texas residents would not be able to board a domestic flight or enter federal facilities unless they had another form of identification acceptable for federal purposes, such as a U.S. passport.

6. What do I need to do?

Because Texas is compliant with the REAL ID Act, all Texas driver licenses and ID cards are currently valid forms of identification for federal purposes.

• Check your current license

If your card expires before Oct. 1, 2022, and you don't have a star in the upper right-hand corner, renew your driver license or identification card before the Oct. 1, 2020 deadline.

You may renew up to two years in advance of your card's expiration date.

If your card expires after Oct. 1, 2022, and you want a REAL ID compliant card, you can request a duplicate card in person or through the website www.Texas.gov.

If you have a card issued on or after Oct. 10, 2016, and see a gold star in the upper right hand corner, it’s a REAL ID Act compliant card, and no further action is required on your part.

• How to renew

If you received your renewal notice in the mail, bring the required documents listed in your renewal notice.

If you did not receive a renewal notice, are obtaining a replacement, or are not sure what to bring with you, there is a checklist to determine which documents you may have that will meet these requirements.

While these documents may already be on file with the Department, bringing them with you will minimize any delays in renewing or replacing your driver license or identification card.

To determine if you are eligible to renew online or need to obtain a replacement card, visit www.texas.gov.

7. Why was a notice mailed to me asking me to renew early?

Notices are being sent out reminding customers that they can renew their DL or ID card up to two years in advance of expiration to provide customers with plenty of notice to receive a REAL ID compliant card by the Oct. 1, 2020 deadline if they want one.

8. I don't fly on domestic flights or visit federal facilities. Do I still need to get a compliant card?

No. As long as your existing Texas DL is still valid and not expired, it is acceptable for driving on any public roadway nationwide, and an identification card will continue to be valid for non-federal identification purposes. However, when you renew again, you will receive a REAL ID compliant card.

9. I have both a Texas driver license and identification card. Can I keep both?

No. REAL ID and Texas law only permits a person to hold a driver license or identification card, not both. View the law by visiting Texas Transportation Code Section 521.183.

10. Does the REAL ID Act create a national database of driver information?

No. Driver information is securely maintained by the Texas Department of Public Safety, and is not entered into a national database.

11. Do REAL ID compliant marked cards contain an electronic chip?

No. Texas driver licenses and identification cards do not contain an electronic chip. Some states issue an enhanced driver license or identification card that contains an RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification) chip to assist with rapid identification checks at federal border checkpoints. Texas does not participate in this program.

12. What happens if I don’t currently have a REAL ID-compliant Texas driver license or ID card and do nothing until after October 1, 2020?

If your driver license is still valid, you may continue to use it for non-federal purposes, such as operating a motor vehicle, voting, or banking. You will not be able to use it for federal identification purposes, such as boarding domestic flights or entering secure federal facilities, after Oct. 1, 2020.

If you attempt to present a non-compliant Texas driver license or ID card after Oct. 1, 2020, the Transportation Security Administration or other federal agency responsible for security will determine whether to permit you access/entrance, or subject you to additional screening as prescribed by that agency.

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