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The TSA Still Doesn't Think District of Columbia Driver Licenses are Valid

Dec. 24, 2017
2 min read
The TSA Still Doesn't Think District of Columbia Driver Licenses are Valid
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In an open letter to the Transportation Security Administration (caution: PDF link) this week, DC Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton had to remind the TSA that "District of Columbia" IDs are valid.

That's right, it's still a "chronic problem faced by air travelers from the District of Columbia" to be turned away at airport security by TSA officers who won't accept IDs from our nation's capital.

Again over the Thanksgiving holiday, a DC resident was prevented from clearing security in Newark (EWR) when a TSA officer refused to accept a District of Columbia driver's license as a "valid form of ID." Thankfully other officers were eventually able to intervene, but the DC resident nearly missed her flight as a result.

Part of the problem dates back to 2013 when the District of Columbia changed the name on the federal district's identification cards from "Washington D.C." to "District of Columbia." As Rep. Norton explains, this was "updated to comply with REAL ID."

While that would understandably cause confusion with existing TSA officers when it was first rolled out, the problem has perplexingly persisted years after the changes were made.

Rep. Norton slams the TSA for not doing more to train officers on this problem, pointing out how it's "humiliating for a US citizen to be delayed because a federal government employee does not recognize the name of the District of Columbia." She calls for TSA Administrator David Pekoske to "like your predecessors, take action to ensure that all D.C. licenses and IDs in circulation" are recognized and accepted by TSA officers.

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While the District of Columbia is REAL ID compliant, there are many states whose driver's licenses still aren't compliant:

Yellow states have received yet another an extension until October 10, 2018 to fix the issue. However, three states (New York, Michigan, Louisiana) are still under review. If the state officials aren't successful in getting an extension, IDs from these states won't be accepted by TSA officers beginning January 22, 2018:

H/T: Washington Post

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