From staff reports

Maine residents may continue to use their driver’s licenses as identification to board airplanes, Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap announced Monday.

Dunlap, citing a recent statement by U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, said driver’s licenses will be accepted for two more years. As of Jan. 22, 2018, a REAL ID-compliant form of identification will be required for any Maine resident to board a commercial domestic flight.

“Over the next two years, those states that are not REAL ID-compliant are strongly encouraged to meet the requirements of the law for the benefit of their residents,” Johnson said in a written statement. He said the goal of the federal law is to prevent fraudulent issuance and use of driver’s licenses, ensuring that the government can screen travelers for possible terrorist ties.

In 2007, Maine became the first state to reject the federal regulations that were adopted in response to a study on national security after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Federal officials wanted to make driver’s licenses more uniform and secure, but opponents said the federal law was too sweeping and intrusive.

The Department of Homeland Security announced on Dec. 20, 2013 that there would be a phased enforcement plan for the REAL ID Act and ordered that it be implemented in a “measured, fair and responsible way.”

Twenty-three states are now fully compliant. Maine is one of 27 states that have received extensions by demonstrating steps toward compliance. Maine has received multiple extensions to comply with the 2005 act.

Dunlap said the Legislature has voted against several provisions of the REAL ID Act, so state law will have to be changed to fully comply with federal law.

Dunlap said drivers with licenses from states that are not REAL ID-compliant and have not received deadline extensions will have to provide other forms of identification as of 2018. Extensions will cease as of Oct. 1, 2020.


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