The California Department of Motor Vehicles issues two types of driver’s license: standard (“Federal Limits Apply”) and compliant.
The Federal Government requires a form of identification compliant with federal Real ID.
A standard California driver’s license does not comply with federal Real ID requirements.
What immediately jumps to mind is the requirement by the Transporation Security Administration to present a compliant identification in order to board domestic air flights. That requirement doesn’t kick in until October 1, 2020. Another two years! On the other hand, that’s only another two years. That will pass in a couple of blinks. Ask any parent of school-age children.
Additionally, and pertinent locally, are these interesting statements from the DMV’s FAQ on Real ID:
If you know you will not be boarding a domestic flight or visiting a secure federal facility or military base, you do not need a REAL ID driver license or ID card.
IMPORTANT: Check with the federal facility/military base before you visit to verify their identification requirements.
Anyone entering Los Alamitos Joint Forces Training Base or the Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station is already required to show a government-issued photo ID. At some point — I am guessing on October 1, 2020 but need to verify that — security at the JFTB and the NWS may require real ID compliance.
Since my California driver’s license expires this year, I have two solid local reasons to seek a compliant license. Personally, I have another more important reason — one of my children lives in Iowa. Getting past a TSA checkpoint is needed to visit, unless I want to drive for three days straight.
So although I might have renewed online this time, I chose instead to fill out the application and make an appointment at the Long Beach DMV office in order to request a compliant license.
The DMV portal for online services is fairly straightforward. I filled out an application, requested an appointment, and assembled the needed documents. In my case, the documents included a certified birth certificate from the Norwalk branch of the Los Angeles County Recorder, my decades-old Social Security card, my current California driver’s license, a bank statement (to show my current address), and a printout of the application and the appointment confirmation.
Having read horror stories about how badly the demand for compliant driver’s licenses has clogged up the works statewide at DMV offices, I anticipated a long line just to check in for my appointment — and no parking spaces.
I determined to arrive early, and asked my husband to drop me off and be ready to pick me up later.
But… when we arrived at 3700 East Willow Street, the parking lot was, well, not empty but certainly not full.
Seeing the healthy bounty of parking, my husband decided to come in with me.
We were greeted by two lines leading to a single person checking in both lines. The line on the right was for those benighted souls arriving without an appointment. The line on the left was for those lucky devils with an appointment.
The total number of people in both lines was perhaps a dozen.
The fellow doing check in was not a mechanistic wonder of efficiency but neither was he the real-life avatar of the sloths from Zootopia. After a not unreasonable amount of time, he was looking over my documents and giving me a number: F-127.
I sat in a lobby chair and listened for my number. My husband sat down next to me to read a printed copy of the California Driver’s Handbook. (The Handbook is printed in a wide range of languages, from everyday Spanish to more surprising Arabic.) The public address system was clear and understandable! The display screens were bright and easily read!
This was the longest period of waiting during the whole ordeal, and it wasn’t all that long before I was called to Window 14.
The DMV clerk at Window 14 looked over my documents and asked for a $35 payment. (They take only cash, a personal check, or a debit card.) She typed on her computer. I had time to look over her work area and see that she likes sparklies and the color pink. She asked me to press my thumb on the blue light. (I had to stand on tiptoe because the counter was tall, and I am not.) She printed stuff out, stapled it together, and told me to go to the end of the counter to have my picture taken.
Okay, I said to myself. That will be a line!
There was a line — on the floor, and I had to toe it for the photo. No one was ahead of me. I had to again press my thumb to a blue light. Then the photo clerk gave me back my sheaf of papers and told me to return to Window 14.
The clerk at Window 14 checked everything over once more and handed me my interim license. She said to expect my new license in the mail within a couple of weeks, and then she wished me a good weekend.
For a torturous ordeal, my adventure with the DMV did not rise to expectations.
My husband wasn’t able to finish reading the Driver’s Handbook in the time it took me to get processed. We did note that there were more people in both lines as we left, and the parking lot was full until we pulled out of our space and headed to the grocery store.
I showed up early for my appointment. I was not required to wait for my appointed time. I was processed without undue delay. My husband and I were through the checkout line at the grocery store and headed to our parked car at four minutes after the time of my DMV appointment.
On my honor!