No need to worry about gold stars for Utah licenses, but make sure your address is up to date
Plans in place to make drivers’ licenses compliant with Real ID Act
SALT LAKE CITY — Utahns may have heard recently that they won't be able to board a plane without special gold stars on their IDs, but the Drivers License Division says not to worry.
Every driver's license — as well as other Utah ID cards — will have the federally required star by the October 2020 deadline without people needing to do anything extra, according to division officials.
Well, almost nothing, division Director Chris Caras says.
"We need the citizens to make sure that we have their correct address information. Otherwise, the card's not going to make it to them," Caras said.
Lawmakers passed a bill in a special session Monday repealing provisions in Utah law that led to noncompliance with the Real ID Act.
Starting Feb. 3, all new drivers' licenses issued and those that are renewed thereafter will include the star, Caras said.
For drivers whose licenses aren't due for renewal until after October 2020, the division will reprint and mail them by the deadline — all 1.5 million of them.
It was important to the division that Utahns wouldn't have to go out of their way to get an ID that will comply with the federal requirement, Caras said. They will still renew their license when necessary (in person or online) and they will have their gold-starred ID card before October 2020.
"They've already met their obligation," Caras said. "We didn't believe that that burden should again be placed on them."
All that officials ask in return is for everyone to be patient, and to update their addresses to ensure they get their reprinted ID.
The total cost of reprinting and sending out the IDs is estimated at about $2.4 million.
This updated information comes after a long-running dispute between Utah and the Department of Homeland Security to conform to the standards set by the department's Real ID Act, part of which requires a gold star to be printed on all licenses to show the state issuing is compliant.
People who attempt to board an airplane with a non-starred driver's license after October 2020 may be stopped by the Transport Security Administration. Passports would still be acceptable for air travel identification.
With that deadline approaching, Utah needed to become fully Real ID compliant soon.
Sen. Wayne Harper, R-Taylorsville, sponsored Monday's measure to resolve the issue that dates back to 2010, when Utah lawmakers decided to push back against what they viewed as an unfunded mandate from the federal government dealing with new Homeland Security policies.
In House floor debate, Rep. Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan, argued the Real ID Act takes control from the states and make residents' private information more susceptible to data breaches and leaks.
But Rep. Eric Hutchings, R-Kearns, said the bill doesn't require the gathering of any new personal information or data the government doesn't already have.