New challenges to obtain a REAL ID and renew drivers’ licenses arose this week when as many as 65 in-person DVS licensing bureaus and deputy registrar offices across the state closed to combat the spread of COVID-19. In centers that are still open, significant steps are being taken to adhere to social distancing protocol. Because of this, those who have not yet registered for their REAL ID driver’s license may face even greater obstacles in obtaining one.
Minnesotans that are unable to renew their drivers’ license or ID card (REAL ID compliant or otherwise) due to the closure of DVS and deputy registrar offices will receive a reprieve based on Gov. Walz’s declaration of a peacetime emergency. The governor publicly stated that drivers “are not going to get a ticket for driving with an expired license at this time.” DPS officials are working on protocols to be announced in the coming days to ensure Minnesotans are not forced to stop driving if they cannot renew their license due to office closures.
Around 86% of Minnesotans have yet to apply for a REAL ID card, and with further delays in registering, the backlog of applicants is likely to grow. The federal deadline for REAL ID-compliant licenses is October 1, but DPS officials are currently working with federal officials on extending the deadline as a response to COVID-19.
In the meantime, Minnesotans are encouraged to begin the application process online at drive.mn.gov. When licensing bureaus reopen, applicants will need to bring documents proving identity, social security number, and two different documents proving Minnesota residency to the DMV.