Dear Crabby, Do I Really Need a New Driver’s License?

Dear Crabby,

I heard a rumor floating around that Michigan residents will need a new driver’s license to board planes, go into federal buildings, and such. Is this really necessary?

June Sample

Dear June Sample,

Is it necessary? Eh. I think that could be open for debate, but people need to stop acting like the idea has come out of the blue. This hullabaloo all started back in 2005 when Congress passed the REAL ID Act. It was put into action based on the recommendation from the 9/11 Commission that the Federal Government “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses.” Since then, states have slowly been implementing the necessary measures to be compliant. And I do mean slowly. In the 12 years since this act passed, only half of all the states have already met the REAL ID minimum standards. And now it’s Michigan’s turn to get on board. So, starting this past Monday, August 28 Michiganders could start getting the updated driver’s license at no cost. Now, I will admit that I understand why people are scratching their heads over this. First, to get one of these fancy, new cards you’ll need to call your mom and find out where the heck she stashed your birth certificate. But if you can’t prove you were born, the Secretary of State will accept another approved document. Whatever that means. Now, if you already have one of Michigan’s enhanced driver’s licenses and ID cards, which are marked with a U.S. flag, and allow land or sea travel from Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, and the Caribbean; these cards are already REAL ID-compliant so enhanced card-holders do not need to apply for a compliant card. Clear as mud, right? Now, you can decide not to get a REAL ID-compliant license or ID. Instead you’ll receive a standard card that will have “Not for federal identification” printed on it (I’m sure it will be in a discreet font). These cards still will be valid for driving, ID purposes, and buying age-restricted items. You just won’t be able to get on a plane (unless you have a passport and want to lug that around), go on a military base, visit a federal buildings, and blah, blah, blah. Of course, I remember when a driver’s license was needed only for driving. Yep. I started driving at a young age on a family member’s farm and I was just itching to get my license when I turned 14. Well, wouldn’t you know it, shortly before my birthday, the age got upped to 16! I wasn’t happy, but that’s the government for ya.

Oh, before I forget, you have until 2020 to get your new license. Since mine is due for renewal in 2019, I think I’ll just wait. For those of you who can’t or are upset about having to jump through another hoop, look at it this way: maybe this time around you’ll take a better picture.

Hope this helps and ‘Say Cheese!’

Dear Crabby

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Stuck in a rut? Need some biased advice from a crabby old baby-boomer? Read regularly by thousands and loved by some, Dear Crabby answers questions weekly to life's challenges. Send him a note at

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