D.C. residents must get new 'Real ID' drivers licenses starting next month

(Photo: WJLA)

WASHINGTON (WJLA) - Around a half-million people currently carry a D.C. driver's license. Starting next month, however, they will have to get new ones.

The District of Columbia will soon begin issuing new licenses called the Real ID credential, which are new IDs that comply with federal security standards.

"The current credential that you have in your pocket if you are a D.C. resident is not the real ID," said DMV Director Lucinda Babers on Monday.

A “Real ID” is a federally mandated, higher security ID – like this one from Wisconsin. Note the star in the upper right-hand corner, as it will be added to the new Real ID. You’ll need one to enter federal buildings this fall, and by 2016, they will be required to board an airplane.

We met Torrey Brockman outside the Rhode Island Avenue DMV. He was here to get a replacement license – something he will have to come back and do again after May 1.

Naturally, some aren't happy at the idea of having to scramble to get new licenses.

"It's always a loophole with the DMV," D.C. resident Robert Stevens told ABC7. "But I can definitely see the security purpose as far as fraud goes.

"Not ideal by any means, I'm sure there will be a fee with that," added Brian Berwanger.

But some think that the added security will be worthwhile.

"With all of the things that are happening these days...I think the extra precaution is good. I don't mind it, as long as people are safe," said resident Rick Payne.

The Department of Homeland Security has implemented the new Real ID program in part to establish minimum standards. About half of the country is already on board with the new federal Real ID provisions.

The new IDs will be issued from May 1st of this year and continue through May 1, 2015.

The Georgetown Service Center, which is re-opening next week, should help with the added foot traffic that could accompany the requirement at DMV offices.

Kansas City native Sara Manco, now living in D.C., told ABC7 she is currently in the process of getting her first D.C. drivers license.

"Especially if it can prevent identities from getting stolen, I think it's a great thing," Manco shared. "Other than that, I think it could get complicated, with license renewals and everything else."

"They need to make it more convenient for the public," said Robert Stevens. "This is a small city, and there's a lot of people in this small city."

541,000 people have D.C. licenses or ID cards, so in an effort to control the crowds, next month the DMV will start a year-long effort to notify people by mail of a suggested week to come in and get the new Real ID.

"Unless you need to renew in the next year or you need a duplicate because it's lost or stolen or you need a change of address, stay put until you get a notification from us to come back in," said Babers.

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