Ohio — Coronavirus means Ohioans now have an extra year to switch to a federally-mandated compliant driver's license.
“Absolutely, go get a driver's license, vehicle registration, plates, whatever you need,” said Charlie Norman.
Norman is Ohio’s registrar of Motor Vehicles. He says the BMV is now fully operational.
“We see between our offices about a million customers a month. So, if we're closed for three months, that gives you some sort of sense of what our backlog looked like,” said Norman.
Ohioans can once again renew their driver’s license or registration, but they don’t necessarily have to.
“The governor signed HB 197 which extends the expiration dates on all licenses and registrations throughout the duration in the declared emergency, plus 90 days. So, we're still in that that declared emergency. So, you know, technically, you know, even if your license shows expired, it's not. It's still perfectly valid and legal and will be for some time," said Norman.
Norman says law enforcement and TSA are on board with accepting expired ID's due to delays caused by COVID-19.
Coming soon is a requirement to carry a "Real ID." In the Buckeye State, you have options.
"You can get a compliant ID or you can just get the standard license. You know, the only difference really is you're required to show a little bit more information in the form of documentation to prove who you are. That's not the same everywhere. Some states at this point are only issuing compliant ID's, but in Ohio, we thought it was, you know, worthwhile to give people the option," said Norman.
If you want to avoid long lines, you can accomplish quite a bit online.
In fact, the BMV recommends you hold off on coming in if possible.
Additional cleaning procedures, a 50 percent capacity limit, and plexiglass barriers all add up to a slower process.
But there is a "get in line” online timesaver option.
“You're advancing through the queue at the deputy registrar's offices, as if you were physically there,” said Norman.
Coronavirus changed the way you take your driver’s exam, too.
The examiner now evaluates drivers from outside the vehicle on a closed course in order to keep in line with social distancing protocols.
Plus, the pandemic led to an extension for you get a “Real ID.”
Initially, October 1, 2020 was the deadline for the Real ID Act of 2005 to take effect for all 50 states.
Now, you have until October 1, 2021.
In Ohio, you have a choice to get either a standard ID or compliant ID. A compliant ID will allow you to fly within the U.S. If you go with the standard option, you will need your driver’s license plus your passport in order to fly, even domestically.
“The Real ID Act of 2005, which was a recommendation of the 9/11 Commission, when they looked at 9/11 and they found that terrorists had any number of fraudulently issued state ID's, they looked around the country at how states issued driver's licenses and you can imagine that there was sort of 50 different ways. So, the federal government essentially said 'hey, look for these things that we regulate like air travel, we're going to have a standardized process,'”said Norman.
The goal is to beef up security measures.
More details on what documents you need to switch to a Real ID can be found at bmv.ohio.gov.