Citing current need for social distancing, President Trump extends REAL ID compliance deadline

Mar 31, 2020

President Donald J. Trump at a coronavirus (COVID-19) update briefing Monday, March 23, 2020. Trump announced he’d be extending the deadline for Americans to become REAL ID compliant. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

Editor's note: The deadline has been extend to October 2021.  

For Alaskans who travel by plane, heading to a DMV to sign up for a federally-mandated REAL ID is a priority. But getting to the DMV can be difficult as Alaskans are pushed to stay indoors and limit contact during the coronavirus pandemic.

At a news conference, President Donald Trump says he will be extending the deadline for Americans to get REAL ID compliant.

Trump mentioned that he didn’t want to require people to go to their local DMV when he’s asking Americans to maintain social distancing.

Prior to the change, numerous Alaska officials had requested a deadline extension — especially considering that many villages don’t even have a DMV office. Some rural lawmakers have expressed concern over a lack of a REAL ID plan for villages from the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles.

U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan had sent a letter to President Trump earlier this month expressing that keeping the old deadline had the potential to “unduly restrict the freedom of movement of Alaskans.”

In a radio address to KOTZ listeners, Senator Donny Olson highlighted that the ability to travel by plane is vital to rural Alaskans.

“Travel on a jet is so important and being able to get through TSA is also important to get back to the communities that we come from,” Olson said.

Olson said Gov. Mike Dunleavy had reached out to the president as well to extend the deadline. President Trump has not given specifics as to when the new deadline will be announced, stating it will happen “very soon.”