NJ behind on updating driver's licenses for new federal requirements

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A sample version of a non-compliant version of a New Jersey driver's license is displayed. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

Starting on October 1, 2020, anyone who wants to fly on a plane in the United States will need a new "REAL ID" state driver's license but New Jersey is among a handful of states that are still not offering the new secure IDs.

That means when state authorities finally get federal approval for the updated license, you should expect to see a crush of people at Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) offices trying to get a compliant license so they can board a commercial flight.  New Jersey officials expect to be processing three or four times the normal number of transactions at the MVC when the new licenses roll out.

The Department of Homeland Security has been working with states for 12 years to implement the REAL ID Act which was passed by Congress in the wake of the 911 attacks.

New York is already compliant but New Jersey had to request an extension for REAL ID enforcement until October 10, 2019. New Jersey officials have previously claimed that the MVC will begin issuing the new licenses in the spring of 2019 with "plenty of time" for people to get the new IDs.  A firm date for when they will be made available has not been announced on the Motor Vehicle Commission website.

Some states have seen huge lines at state offices for people attempting to get the new license when they have rolled out. New Jersey says they are planning to make more transactions available online in an effort to reduce the number of people who need to go to MVC offices. That includes being able to renew car registrations via mobile phone.

Most states put a star on the top of a REAL ID-compliant license so people know they are compliant. Travelers from New Jersey will still be able to fly without the updated driver's license if they have a valid passport or other TSA-accepted photo ID.