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Frustrated Drivers in Kansas After REAL ID Act Changes

By: Ryan Gallagher August 30, 2017
Drivers in Kansas need more documentation to have federally approved IDs.

Misinformed Kansas drivers are voicing their concerns over changes to the driver’s license application process at the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). These changes are being made in order to comply with the federal government’s REAL ID Act.

The REAL ID Act, conceived after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, passed to federal law in 2005 with a goal to create a more uniform national driver’s license. The government hopes this will increase security, prevent terrorism, and fight unlawful entry into the United States.

Kansas was actually one of the first states to begin making REAL ID changes. Most recently, the changes are forcing both newly licensed and renewing drivers to bring more documentation to obtain their credential. Those who are without proper documentation will receive non-federally compliant IDs, which will not be valid for domestic air travel after September 30, 2020. 

In addition, these licenses will not be accepted to enter a military base or other federal facility after that date.

In early August, Mary Ann Grodowitz of De Soto, Kansas, stopped into the Mission DMV office to renew her license without knowledge of the REAL ID changes, which now include proof of their Social Security number and either a certified birth certificate or a valid U.S. passport.

Crunched for time, Grodowitz settled for the license option marked “Not for federal ID”. When choosing this option, she did not know she would be coming back to the DMV sooner than the normal 6-year renewal period.

“It’s very unfair,” she said. “It feels like the change wasn’t announced anywhere that you’d see it.”

Lisa Kaspar, the director of vehicles for the Kansas Department of Revenue (DOR), has been making note of DMV customers’ attitudes throughout the changeover period and has noticed both irritation and indifference.

“A lot of people bring everything [documentation] anyway,” Kaspar said. “We’ve had a few that have just run home and gotten it… We haven’t noticed a lot of people who were upset.”

To avoid any further REAL ID-related angst, Kansans should prepare their Social Security card, birth certificate, passport, and other applicable documents before heading to the DMV.

The new Kansas licenses will boast decorative artwork and revised security features to combat identity fraud. In addition, the federally compliant IDs will have a gold circle with a star cutout in the top right corner. The star signifies the registered cardholder’s lawful presence in the United States.

Nationwide, states have been very slow to enact the REAL ID changes; reasons range from lack of funding to the extra taxes it would levy on drivers. In addition, some state officials felt the new law could infringe upon 10th Amendment rights, which promise states and citizens all rights not specifically granted to the federal government by the U.S. Constitution.

Today, many states are scrambling to comply with REAL ID regulations after the federal government announced each state would have to make the necessary changes by the end of 2017.

“We are starting to issue these new forms of ID three years ahead of when it’s required,” said Sam Williams, a secretary for the Kansas DOR. “It is important that we’re out in front of this with our Kansas consumers. There’s no need to rush in for a new ID, but it’s something the public needs to be aware of.”

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