If you have a D.C. driver’s license, there are big changes on the way. Starting on May 1, once your license expires, you will have to prove your identity to get a new license.
It's all part of the District coming into line with the federal Real ID program. Its goal is to make sure driver’s licenses are really being issued to those actual people.
But not all of the people this change will affect are aware of what is on the way and D.C. officials say they are launching a massive effort to change that.
Ever since Rose Harper has been driving, she has had a D.C. license.
"I have not had a reason to go to DMV lately,” she said.
Now she has a reason. Starting on May 1, all 540,000 drivers will have to personally go down to Department of Motor Vehicles and prove who they are.
The reason? The Real ID program has strict rules about how driver’s licenses are handed out. Passports and personal documents will need to be verified before you can get renewed.
Back in 2005, the federal government passed a national law saying if you got a driver’s license, you also had to provide additional identification proving you are who you say you are. Now D.C. has come up with its Real ID program and it starts in just two weeks.
"Real ID, which is a federal law, we had to kind of work our way through that process as we implemented our own process,” said Mayor Vincent Gray.
He used the opening of a new Georgetown DMV office to publicize the change.
"If you have our existing driver's license, eventually you will have to come back in person,” said Lucinda Babers, the director of D.C.’s Department of Motor Vehicles.
She said if you don't have a Real ID, you also won't be able to use online services.
"You're going to have to bring your proof of residency, your proof of identity, your proof of Social [Security] documents back in for us to revalidate," Babers said.
The good news is DMV officials say that only about 12 percent of D.C. license holders still need to have the change made.
Long-time license holders like Rose Harper says Real ID could be a real pain in the neck.
"If it’s short notice for people, I think they should step up their campaign for saying this is going to happen,” she said.
That campaign is about to launch and D.C.’s DMV is warning drivers not to ignore it or it could make for very long days when they finally do go to renew.
D.C. has had to fight a few turf wars itself over its own license. A TSA agent was recently in the news for questioning a woman's D.C. driver's license because he was aware D.C. is not a state.
The Transportation Security Administration quickly clarified the situation and said that the TSA agent should have known D.C. licenses are a recognized form of identification.
WTTG FOX 5 & myfoxdc
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