Caption:NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 02: Travelers check their phones while waiting for their flight at La Guardia Airport during a winter storm on February 2, 2015 in the Queens borough of New York City. The snowstorm, which is effecting an area stretching from New York to Chicago, is disrupting travelers both on the road and in the air. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images) (Photo : Credit: Andrew Burton / Staff )
As if going through airport security wasn't enough of a hassle, residents in five states may soon have an extra hurdle in boarding their flights.
The Department of Homeland Security is thinking about enforcing the REAL ID Act, a 10-year-old otherwise ignored measure that makes driver's licenses invalid when presented to Transportations Security Administration - or TSA - agents. It became law four years after 9/11, after hijackers aboard World Trade Center-bound flights were found to be carrying multiple licenses.
"The purposes covered by the act are: accessing federal facilities, entering nuclear power plants, and, no sooner than 2016, boarding federally regulated commercial aircraft," the DHS states on their website.
Driver's License 'OK' Until Oct. 2016:
Nineteen states received waver extensions through Oct. 10, 2016, and four others - Alaska, California, New Jersey, and South Carolina - are under review for such an extension, leaving four states deemed noncompliant.
Driver's License Not Enough in 2016
Illinois, Minnesota, New Mexico, Missouri, and Washington don't meet requirements set by the REAL ID act and may see changes as soon as next spring. If DHS decides to enforce the law, travelers in these states will need a passport to fly.
Flying from Illinois to New York
Part of the problem is in implementing a law that affects five states to travelers from around the country. In this scenario, a New York resident that flies to Illinois with a driver's license cannot board the flight back. Similarly, a Washington resident without a passport wouldn't be able to fly anywhere at all.
Another part of the problem lies with the states themselves. According to the Chicago Tribune, Illinois has received two extensions since 2008 with the most recent one expiring in October. Little was done to improve security features on their driver's licenses and state-issued ID's.
Officials said they would make a decision by the end of 2015, though nothing has been announced as of Wednesday.