Answers about Maryland and Virginia drivers’ licenses

WASHINGTON — The Washington area is used to getting carded: federal buildings, downtown offices and military facilities — all require some ID.

The question more recently is this: Will my driver’s license will be accepted?

A WTOP story this week detailed how D.C. license holders will need to obtain new federally compliant credentials by October in order to enter federal buildings.

D.C. residents will need the new license to board commercial flights in 2016. Passports will also be acceptable.

The Department of Motor Vehicles starts issuing the new licenses May 1.

Naturally, Maryland and Virginia residents wanted to know if they, too, have to scramble for a new license.

The short answer: no.

“We want Virginians to know that they are not going to experience any difficulty in obtaining federal services or access to federal facilities with their Virginia credentials,” says Sunni Brown, a spokeswoman with Virginia’s DMV.

Virginia has been given an extension at least until October to be fully compliant with the federal standards.

The Department of Homeland Security has acknowledged its progress in enhancing the security and issuance process for credentials.

Regardless, Virginia has no plan that would require license holders to go back in and get a new credential.

Back in 2009, Virginia changed its method of issuing drivers’ licenses to enhance security and reduce risks of fraud.

Brown says she is hopeful that DHS will recognize Virginia has comparable standards that are set forth in the REAL ID Act.

Maryland has been in compliance with REAL ID standards since 2012, and the license held by the general population meets the standards.

“Maryland residents currently have a REAL ID-compliant license and are not required to come in and re-enroll,” says Buel Young, a spokesman at the Maryland MVA.

“The only individuals who do not possess a REAL ID-compliant license in Maryland — it’s stated directly on the license ‘Not Valid for Federal Purposes,'” he says.

Those would be second-tier licenses holders, who are issued licenses to drive, though they don’t have sufficient documents for federal identification.

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