OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) - In one year, those who don't have the new federal compliant Real ID driver's license or identification card will not be able to fly unless they have a valid passport.
At best, it will be an overwhelming and likely impossible task for the California Department of Motor Vehicles because so many have not applied for theIR new card.
The roots of the Real ID go back to the 911 attacks. In 2005, Uncle Sam enacted the law requiring driver's licenses to meet technical and documentary proof requirements in person. After granting an extension to some states, including California, Oct. 1, 2020 is the absolute deadline.
But, here's the problem. California DMV's have issued 5.4 million complying licenses. However, almost three times that, roughly 15.2 million Californians, still have not gotten them. That is more than the individual populations of 46 states.
Drivers have no other option but to go to a DMV facility with the proper documentation, to get a Real ID license, no exceptions.
"Further to that, 57 percent of Americans don't even know that the Real ID is looming one year from today," said U.S. Travel Association Executive Vice President Tori Emerson Barnes. That means that every one of the DMV's 180 field offices statewide must process more than 300 applicants per day per office. That's a total of over 84,000 a day systemwide.
Though a valid passport will still get you on a plane, only 42 percent of Americans have one. So, if you can't get a real ID in time and you want to fly, apply for a passport. You can get one in six to eight weeks. But, a new passport costs $145.
"There are approximately 99 million people that have no form of identification that would allow them to get through security on an airplane on Oct. 1, 2020," said Barnes.
The Department of Homeland Security says it does not intend to extend the Real ID deadline. So, at the current rate, the U.S, Travel Association estimates as many as a half-million passengers will be turned away at U.S. airports the first week alone.
"What we're looking at Oct. 1, 2020, is potentially extreme chaos at the U.S. airports across the country," said Barnes.
Bottom line, under the current system in place now, there is no way the DMV can process the remaining 15.2 million California's before the deadline. So, if you can wait a few months, set up a DMV appointment online anywhere you can find one within a reasonable distance.