Scared of long lines? What the Secretary of State is doing to meet REAL ID demand

  • A computer malfunction and demand for REAL ID licenses causes a long line outside the Illinois Secretary of State facility in Lombard on Oct. 1.

      A computer malfunction and demand for REAL ID licenses causes a long line outside the Illinois Secretary of State facility in Lombard on Oct. 1. Marni Pyke | Staff Photographer

 
 
Posted10/14/2019 5:30 AM

If you blinked, you might have missed it.

Recently, the Illinois Secretary of State's office opened up three suburban locations on days they typically would be closed to serve the throngs seeking REAL ID documents.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Is there a repeat coming? Possibly, spokesman Dave Druker said, explaining the agency is experimenting with ways to meet the demand for REAL ID, an enhanced identification for air travelers mandated after 9/11.

The number of drivers flocking to driver's license offices clutching copies of mortgages, electric bills and marriage certificates hasn't been lost on Secretary of State Jesse White, Druker said.

"We hope to do more but there is a lot involved in scheduling," he noted, adding one issue is finding employees who can work on days off.

In less than a year, Oct. 1, 2020, federal law will require passengers on domestic flights to have a driver's license or state-issued ID card with a gold star, signifying REAL ID compliance. The secretary of state recommends allowing 60 days before you fly for processing, just in case.

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A message on the agency's website Saturday warned "due to the federally mandated REAL ID program, wait times ... have increased. Please be patient and be aware that we may need to suspend certain services, including drive tests, to ensure that we serve those already in line."

Driver's license offices with pop-up hours have taken place in Schaumburg, Naperville and Deerfield. When all systems are go, staff members give flyers about the upcoming opening to people standing in line and also post a notice on cyberdriveillinois.

Meanwhile, don't totally freak out about REAL ID, officials say. If you don't have the gold star by Oct. 1, 2020, a passport or military ID also qualifies you to board a U.S. flight.

To learn more about what documents you need to get a REAL ID, go to realid.ilsos.gov. There's a FAQ, list of documents and interactive checklist. For advice, call (833) 503-4074.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

One more thing

In the "who knew?" department, the Secretary of State also offers mobile offices at locations like senior centers or park district buildings, said Rocco Claps, SOS Speakers Bureau administrator.

Typically, the secretary of state is invited by a local entity and will set up shop for a day offering basic services such as license renewals and stickers. They'll take photos but don't give driving tests or REAL ID applications.

In 2018, the agency conducted 350 mobile visits.

Upcoming dates include: Oct. 22, at the Zion-Benton Public Library in Zion; Nov. 5, at the Algonquin Township Hall in Crystal Lake; Nov. 7, at the Fremont Township building in Mundelein; and Dec. 2, at the Peterson Park building in Buffalo Grove.

You should know

Buckle up folks, and it's not just because Illinois State Police will deploy patrols this month on suburban toll roads. Troopers will be watching for drivers and passengers who don't wear seat belts on the Reagan Memorial Tollway (I-88) in DuPage County, on the Tri-State in Cook and Lake counties, and on the Veterans Memorial Tollway (I-355) in DuPage and Will counties. IDOT statistics show 263 people died in car crashes in 2017 because they weren't buckled up.

Gridlock alert

Heads up, north Tri-State drivers: Nighttime ramp closures are coming to I-94 interchanges at Deerfield and Lake-Cook roads on Tuesday, weather permitting. The Illinois tollway is resurfacing pavement. Work will occur from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Workers will start with the ramp linking eastbound I-94 to Lake-Cook this week, then shift to the ramp connecting eastbound I-94/I-294 to Deerfield Road the week of Oct. 20. Detours will be posted.

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