Over the next few years, most Erie County drivers will need to renew their New York state driver's licenses. Erie County Clerk Chris Jacobs is urging drivers to consider upgrading to an enhanced driver's license at renewal time because, as soon as 2016, a federal law called the REAL ID Act will prohibit the use of a regular New York driver's license for domestic air travel.
According to the county clerk's office, the Homeland Security website already lists New York state as "non-compliant" with the REAL ID Act. However, the state enhanced driver's license has been designated by the secretary of Homeland Security as acceptable for official federal purposes such as boarding a commercial aircraft.
"If you take the opportunity to upgrade to an enhanced driver's license when your regular license is up for renewal, it will ensure that you can use your license for domestic travel in the future," Jacobs said. The New York EDL is also valid identification that can be used instead of a passport to travel by land or sea to and from Canada, Mexico and some countries in the Caribbean while a regular driver's license is not accepted.
"My concern is many motorists are going to renew their regular driver's license and as soon as a year from now, they will have to come back into our office, pay again, to upgrade to an enhanced license so they can travel by air. The state is doing a poor job of informing motorists about this and it may cost our citizens extra money paying license fees twice," Jacobs said.
Enhanced driver's licenses cost $94.50 and require additional forms of identification to obtain.
For more information, Jacobs encourages residents to contact the Erie County Auto Bureau Customer Call Center at 716-858-7450 or go to www.erie.gov/clerk.