Montana has another year to comply with the federal Real ID Act, which means Montanans can continue to use their state driver's license or identification card to board flights and access federal buildings.
State officials refused to comply with the 2005 act in the past, expressing concern that it jeopardizes the security of Montanans by creating a national database of documents. The state Legislature even passed legislation in 2007 prohibiting Montana from complying, though state lawmakers approved a new law this year that will give Montanans the option to purchase a state driver's license or identification card that meets the more strict federal regulations.
Montana has received several extensions to comply with the law and was waiting to hear back from the Department of Homeland Security about another one ahead of an Oct. 10 deadline. Eric Sell, a spokesperson for the Montana Department of Justice, said the department received an email granting the extension on Wednesday morning.
Without the extension, Montanans would not have been allowed access to federal facilities or flights without a passport beginning in January 2018.
The Motor Vehicle Division will start offering compliant IDs in January 2019, Administrator Sarah Garcia said. Even though the state has a 90-day grace period once the latest extension expires in October 2018, Garcia said, the state will apply for another extension that would extend through January 2019.
During a renewal period, people will be able to purchase a non-compliant ID for $40.50 or a Real ID card for an additional $25. People will pay an additional $50 during a non-renewal period.
Montanans may also opt to use a passport to board flights.
Garcia said the Motor Vehicle Division will hire new staff, buy necessary equipment and develop its business processes during the one-year extension period.
The division will partner with marketing students at Montana State University Billings to create a public information campaign. The division will pay for all the materials and advertising, but MSUB has agreed to develop the campaign for free.
The Department of Justice wasn’t available to immediately answer questions, but previously said it would start a public awareness campaign if the extension was granted. The campaign will notify people of the extension and inform them on the department’s efforts to comply.
Airport signs that say Montanans won’t be able to board a flight with their state driver’s license as of January 2018 will have to be updated by TSA, Garcia said.