Montana complies with federal REAL ID law

Montanan’s are one step closer to applying for REAL ID’s.

Last Thursday, Gov. Steve Bullock signed the bill into law to allow that process to move forward on May 25. Up until last week, Montana was one of several states that were not in compliance with the REAL ID Act.

On January 22, 2018, federal law will require a REAL ID to board flights and enter federal facilities. But in 2007, the Montana Legislature unanimously voted to not comply.

The concern was that all of that data would be stored in one location and could potentially be compromised. The new law gives Montana residents an opportunity to obtain a REAL ID driver’s license or identification, but it is not mandatory.

Bill Mercer was the U.S. Attorney for the District of Montana when the federal law was passed in 2005 and said REAL ID came from the 9-11 Commission.

“This was all designed to make sure that there were fewer risks in terms of people actually being able to use a form of ID for improper purposes and purposes that could potentially affect national security,” Mercer said. “This new card that will be available through the Department of Motor Vehicles will be fully compliant with the REAL ID Act.”

A spokesman for the governor said he will apply for one or two extensions within the next few weeks.

Montana is one of only four states listed by the Department of Homeland Security as “not in compliance” with the REAL ID Act. That means that if residents don’t update their ID’s by next year, they won’t be able to board planes without a passport or enter other federal facilities.

The bill signed by Governor Steve Bullock last week will allow residents to purchase a compliant ID card for $50. Non-compliant IDs are still available.

The state is working on extending that deadline.

Credit: KPAX Montana