CHICAGO - As thousands of holiday travelers move through Chicago's airports, they will see new Transportation Security Administration signs warning that in January 2018 - more than a year from now - you will have to show a driver's license that is compliant with Homeland Security standards.
Currently, Illinois is among more than two dozen states that fall short, but state officials are assuring travelers that they have nothing to worry about.
Last spring when Secretary of State Jesse White announced new driver's license measures, the state was only 80 percent compliant with current U.S. Homeland Security regulations. White's office said state licenses are now 90 percent compliant, which still means Illinois has had to obtain an exemption from the law so that travelers from here can process through TSA checkpoints.
The Real ID Act was passed by Congress in 2005, establishing minimum security standards for driver's licenses. Illinois hasn't been able to measure up in the 11 years since that law went into effect - for budget and political reasons - but is now close.
Legislation just passed in the last General Assembly session giving Secretary of State officials the authority - and funding - to implement the Real ID security measures, including document checks and facial recognition to eliminate fraud and identity theft.
Authorities said they still have to reconfigure driver service facilities to move the licensee camera to the first part of the process, rather than the end. They say in some facilities, that will be difficult.
Until Illinois is in full compliance, there are some places that will not allow you access using your state driver's license from here, including military bases and some other government facilities. But TSA checkpoints at U.S. airports are still allowing Illinois licenses for I.D. Illinois officials said that they expect to have all of it buttoned up by the deadline of January 2018.
Dept of Homeland Security on Real ID
Illinois Secretary of State on driver's licenses