Politics & Government

Want to avoid hours-long lines at DMV? Get your REAL ID now, SC officials warn

What is a REAL ID?

Do you have the correct ID? Watch this video to learn more about SC's new drivers license and ID card and what you need to get one.
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Do you have the correct ID? Watch this video to learn more about SC's new drivers license and ID card and what you need to get one.

South Carolinians are not lining up to get the state’s new driver’s license and identification card. That has some officials worried about hours-long lines next year at the 66 offices of the S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles, lawmakers were told Wednesday.

“I’m betting on six-hour lines because people aren’t coming in,” Motor Vehicles chief Kevin Shwedo told S.C. House members.

South Carolinians planning to take a domestic flight or enter a federal building or military installation after Sept. 30, 2020, will be required to show the state’s new driver’s license and ID card, called a REAL ID. A passport can be used to board a flight.

The new $25 cards, with a gold star in the right-hand corner, are available at all 66 locations of Motor Vehicles or online at scdmvonline.com.

The state’s new driver’s license became available in February 2018.

But, as of Tuesday, Motor Vehicles said less than a million of the 4.3 million South Carolinians who have a driver’s license or state-issued identification card either have been issued a REAL ID or opted out.

Motor Vehicles had issued only 562,081 REAL ID licenses, valid for no more than eight years. Another 430,662 South Carolinians have opted out of the REAL ID and, instead, received “not for federal identification” ID cards.

“I need your help,” Shwedo told the House’s Education and Public Works Committee. “We need to continue ... getting people into the DMV for the REAL ID. The problem with our great state is we are a state of procrastinators, and people ain’t coming in.”

To get the card, unless their documents already are on file, license holders will need:

A government-issued birth certificate or U.S. passport.

Proof of a Social Security number.

Two proofs of a current S.C. address.

Records of any name changes.

The new ID card puts South Carolina in compliance with the REAL ID Act, a 2005 federal law intended to help prevent future tragedies like the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

This year, the Motor Vehicles is asking state lawmakers for about $5 million in one-time money to help roll out the final phase of REAL ID.

South Carolinians are not required to get the REAL ID, Shwedo said Wednesday. But, he added, those who don’t “are going to be the first ones, when they have a death in the family and have to fly to California, that won’t be able to get on an airplane and wonder why.

“We’ve got to make sure they understand the criticality of this event.”

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to clarify that you can use a passport to board a flight.

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Maayan Schechter (My-yawn Schek-ter) covers the S.C. State House and politics for The State. She grew up in Atlanta, Ga. and graduated from the University of North Carolina-Asheville. She has previously worked at the Aiken Standard and the Greenville News.

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