NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - It's welcome news for those who still don't have a Real ID. The federal identification card will soon be required for travel and to get into certain federal buildings. Yet according to OMV officials, it won't be for another two years. This, despite information you may find on the Department of Homeland Security's website.
"I felt like it was that time," said Orlando Lewis.
Lewis just got his ID and a Real ID, at that.
(For more information on what's required to obtain your Real ID, click here.)
The star in the top, right-hand corner means Lewis can use it as a federal identification card. He says he opted for a Real ID instead of a standard, state-issued ID because of looming deadlines.
"Eventually you're going to need it. Instead of going through all of it, I just went with it," Lewis explained.
Yet, those deadlines are farther away than some may think. According to the Department of Homeland Security website, Louisiana is one of five states currently under review for an extension to become Real ID compliant. It indicates there's a grace period until January 22, 2018.
Yet, Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles commissioner Karen St. Germain says that's not the case.
"Come January 22, 2018, if I do not have a real ID?" asked FOX 8 anchor/reporter. Katherine Mazzone.
"It means nothing. It doesn't mean anything. 2020 is the drop-dead date," said St. Germain.
St. Germain argues that Louisiana is, in fact, no longer under review.
"Louisiana is now under compliance...everything is complete. Everything," St. Germain said. "We are just waiting on that official signature from the Secretary of DHS. That's it."
She says the state's Real ID compliance could come as soon as next week, but certainly before January 22. Aimed at preventing identify fraud, the Real ID Act of 2005 mandates that states standardize driver's licenses into a national database.
The feds will soon require Real IDs to enter federal buildings and to get through TSA for domestic flights, but St. Germain says the IDs are not a must.
"It is your choice," said St. Germain.
Yet, you will have to have a passport to fly domestically in 2020 if you opt out.
It's why, for folks like Lewis, the Real ID makes sense.
"You might as well just do it," said Lewis.
While St. Germain says the OMV has addressed much of the controversy surrounding the Real ID, some have concerns over its overall implementation.
The American Civil Liberties Union, for example, claims on its website that Real IDs "would facilitate the tracking of data on individuals and bring government into the very center of every citizen's life. By definitively turning driver's licenses into a form of national identity documents, Real ID would have a tremendously destructive impact on privacy."