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Alaska News

DMV asks for donations in order to reach rural communities before Real ID restrictions begin

  • Author: Tess Williams
  • Updated: December 16, 2019
  • Published December 16, 2019

The Alaska Department of Motor Vehicles is asking for funds to send employees into rural communities in order to create Real IDs before the Oct. 1, 2020, deadline that will bar flight passengers from using a traditional driver’s license to board a plane.

The federal Real ID program issues driver’s licenses that comply with a stricter set of federal identification standards. After October, traditional driver’s licenses will no longer be accepted to enter a federal building, military base or board a commercial airplane. People may use passports instead.

Alaska Department of Administration Commissioner Kelly Tshibaka said the department needs $60,000 in urgent funding to visit rural communities throughout the state.

“We do have DMV locations out in rural locations, they’re just not out in the remote villages and areas of rural Alaska,” she said. “We do have places, like in Dillingham and Bethel and Napakiak — we would just like to take DMV even further.”

Tshibaka said Monday that it is not yet known where the money for the effort will come from. Officials are asking legislators, nonprofits and tribal communities for help. The department will also accept donations from the public to help fund the project, Tshibaka said. She wrote in a follow up email that donations can be delivered to any DMV location or mailed to the DMV office at 1300 W. Benson Blvd. in Anchorage.

“We have about 100 communities that we’re looking to visit in eight different regions. We can do that for $60,000,” Tshibaka said. “If you want to give then we would love to see that happen and make that happen.”

Traveling to one of the DMV’s 50 existing locations may be time consuming and costly for those living in rural communities, which is why Tshibaka said the department launched the DMV On The Go rural outreach program.

The department traded in old equipment last week in exchange for a mobile machine capable of creating Real IDs.

“I believe we’re the only state that even has this kind of thing created because we wanted to think outside the box and figure out how we can take the DMV to a rural location to serve our customers,” Tshibaka said.

The Real ID costs $40, which is twice as much as a traditional driver’s license, and requires extra documentation. According to the DMV’s checklist, a passport, naturalization or birth certificate is required along with a social security card or a document containing a social security number and two non-handwritten documents listing a primary address.

Tshibaka said 90,000 Alaskans have already switched to a Real ID. She said the DMV is expecting higher-than-normal waiting times throughout the summer as the deadline closes in.

“Most of our customers come into DMV locations over the summer to get their licenses,” Tshibaka said. “What we would like to see is for everyone to come in this winter to avoid what we are anticipating to be three- and four-hour-long lines this summer.”

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