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Don't have your REAL ID documents? It could take some drivers months to get them

MVA: Around 2M drivers do not have their REAL ID
Posted: 5:12 PM, Jun 26, 2019
Updated: 2019-06-27 09:11:20-04
maryland real id sample

BALTIMORE — Marylanders have a little more than a year left to get the new required driver's licenses, and yet, there are around two million drivers and ID holders in the state without a REAL ID , according to the Maryland Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administration.

Drivers are being encouraged to apply early to avoid issues that could take months to work out.

The case for not waiting
Tina Lamb ran into a problem getting her REAL ID. She first heard about the new requirement after receiving a notice in the mail. Her license was set to expire in February, so she started researching what documents she would need to get to be in compliance.

The federal law, which takes effect October 2020, requires all plane passengers to provide a birth certificate or passport, documents that show your full name and social security number, plus two documents verifying your home address when applying for a REAL ID.

“I've never had a passport in my life. In fact, I've never had custody of my birth certificate either,” said Lamb.

With only a few weeks to spare, Lamb, a single mom in Frederick, had to round up the required documents quickly.

“I've got doctor's appointments. I have a daughter that has doctor's appointments every month; got to get to work, got to pay the bills, got to get to the grocery store. You have to live,” Lamb said.

She called her mom in Florida to ask for her birth certificate, but she didn't have it. She then went to the local health department and that's when she learned her birth date on her birth certificate was wrong.

“I was like, ‘What? How can that possibly be?’” asked Lamb. “They explained to me that hospitals can make mistakes. It's just a typo. Somebody hit a one instead of a two.”

That little typo meant she needed a notarized letter from her mom, a letter from the hospital, and a court date.

“Took about three months in order to get that date for the court,” Lamb said.

In the three months she waited, her license expired and the MVA cut her off after two temporary extensions.

“I wasn't sleeping. It was so overwhelming, so overwhelming,” said Lamb.

Lamb finally had her day in court in June after starting the process in February. She showed the judge the documents, answered a few questions, and her petition was approved.

“Five minutes and that was all it took. After all the stress, all the time, five minutes,” Lamb said. “Somebody else's mistake cost me $165, a single parent, it was lovely. I was not happy.”

To check if you still need to bring REAL ID documents to the MVA, click here .

Visiting Vital Records
Lee Hurt, the Maryland Director of the Vital Statistics Administration, has seen complicated cases like Lamb and others who breeze through their office.

“These are very important vital records and they have to be accurate,” said Hurt.

She said they can typically have you in and out in just 20 minutes, but you need to have the right information on you.

The other options are to mail, call, or order online.

“So if you mail it in, it takes about four weeks to get it back to you, but if you use the internet or phone orders, we can get it back in 12 business days,” Hurt said.

Since January, her office has been trying to manage the flood of visitors and calls they've received. In several weeks, they plan to launch a new call center with 10 staff members available to answer questions by phone.

You can also get your birth certificate from your local health department, except in Baltimore City, Baltimore County, and Montgomery County. For those counties, you'll need to go through the Division of Vital Records.

For more information on how to order your birth certificate by mail, phone, in-person, or online, click here .

After you have your documents
Once you collect all the necessary documents, next comes an in-person meeting with the MVA.

The MVA opened temporary offices to handle hundreds of appointments every day.

And while you may have a star on your license, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re REAL ID compliant. An MVA spokesperson told WMAR-2 News Mallory Sofastaii that approximately 930,000 customers with the new style driver’s license with the REAL ID star will be notified to present documents to the MDOT MVA prior to the October 2020 deadline.

To check if you still need to bring REAL ID documents to the MVA, click here .

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