It is Time to Get Your Real ID
The number of Real IDs issued by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is lagging behind projected demand. If you anticipate needing one, I advise you go to the DMV now because I expect the lines to worsen as we approach Oct. 1.
Starting on that date, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will require individuals to have a Real ID in order to board a domestic flight without a passport or to enter a federal facility such as a military base. It’s an added public safety measure to deter terrorism. The Real ID Act was passed by Congress in 2005; several extensions have run their course, culminating in the Oct. 1 deadline for implementation.
While the Assembly Budget Committee oversight hearings I’ve chaired have held the DMV accountable for recent long wait times and other missteps, I worry that even with additional resources and accountability, field offices will still be put to the test. Those long lines could reappear because the only way to get a Real ID is to visit a local DMV office.
You may remember that in 2018, people were waiting hours – sometimes all day – to do anything at the DMV. And at the time, the demand for Real IDs was just beginning. Since then, more employees have been hired, technology has improved, processes have been streamlined and several locations have expanded hours, such as opening earlier during the week at 7 a.m. and/or on Saturdays. For example, both the San Francisco and Daly City DMV offices are open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Those efforts have paid off; many field offices have shorter wait times in the afternoons. For example, on a recent Thursday afternoon, the San Francisco DMV wait times averaged half an hour for those without appointments and less than 15 minutes for those with them. Constituents have told my district staff that they were able to be seen quickly after walking in without an appointment. So yes, walk in without an appointment. As long as you get a number before the close of business, you will be served.
Please take advantage of this slower period and get your Real ID today. You can ensure your visit to the DMV goes smoothly by bringing the right documents with you. You will need:
• An identity document, such as a valid passport or original birth certificate;
• A Social Security card or W-2 form;
• Two proofs of residency, such as a utility or cell phone bill, bank statement or mortgage bill.
To save time, you can even start your Real ID application online and check wait times for each field office in real time on the DMV website at http://www.dmv.ca.gov.
I cannot predict how long these shorter wait times will last, but a deluge of late applications is expected as October nears. I will continue to monitor the situation and am ready to step in again, if necessary.
Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) represents the 19th Assembly District, which includes the west side of San Francisco along with the communities of Broadmoor, Colma and Daly City.
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