If you think DMV lines are long now, just wait.
Starting July 6, the agency will start issuing Real IDs, a new type of identification that will be required for commercial air travel starting Oct. 1.
But not fast enough. A press release from the Secretary of State says that in order to "fulfill the demand of nearly one million Oregonians who will want the Real ID option, DMV would have to issue 32 licenses a minute every business day from July to October."
That isn't possible. So the agency is asking people to get passports now instead.
"You won't need the Real ID with a passport," DMV spokesperson Tom Fuller says. "There could be epically long lines at the DMV come July. We really want people to not experience that."
Fuller recognizes that giving Oregonians only three months to get a new ID acceptable for air travel isn't ideal. He says the reason for the crunch is "a combination of legislative action plus the DMV being in the midst of a desperately needed computer system upgrade."
In an effort to tighten airport security post-9/11, Congress passed the Real ID Act in 2005. In response, three years later Oregon lawmakers passed a bill that prohibited the state from enforcing the act unless the federal government paid for it. That state law was finally repealed in 2017, and waivers exempting Oregonians from needing Real IDs for commercial air travel expires Oct. 1, 2020.
However, starting in 2017, the DMV was also already in the middle of upgrading its computer system from one that had been in place since the '60s. The agency must now wait for the upgrade to be completed in order to issue Real IDs.
"Were the DMV to issue Real IDs any sooner, it would require stopping the upgrade in progress and spending millions on a stand-alone system," Fuller says. "Instead of stopping everything, we decided we would be folding [Real ID issuance] into the work already being done to upgrade the system."
Fuller says that the DMV is considering adding more staff dedicated only to Real ID issuance and adding Saturday hours but "nothing is formalized yet."
Currently, he predicts the cost for a Real ID will be around $56.
"I have to renew my license and it can be renewed right now, I'm not going to wait," Fuller says. "I got a passport card and I will have to pay [and ID] renewal fee anyway. That's just the unfortunate result of all this."