I-TEAM: Do you actually need one of the new REAL IDs you're being asked to get?

Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020
News 12 at 6 O’Clock/NBC at 7

If you haven’t gotten one already, some of you might receive a post card from the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles about your driver’s license. (Source: SC DMV)

NORTH AUGUSTA, SC (WRDW/WAGT) – If you haven’t gotten one already, some of you might receive a post card from the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles about your driver’s license.

Later this year, you won't be able to board a plane with the one you have -- even if you are years away from it expiring. A small number of Georgia drivers could also be in the same boat.

Starting this October, you'll need something called a REAL ID. Or do you? We went and did our homework for you.

You probably already have a REAL ID if you live in Georgia. The state started issuing them in 2012. Since then, if you've moved here, started driving, or renewed your license. You're good to go.

South Carolina was late to the party, but a lot of people won't end up needing a REAL ID anyway.

You won't see that front and center when you go to the SC DMV website, though.

But you do get a preview of the new license -- complete with that gold star in the corner. That's how you know it's considered a Real ID.

You can see Georgia's gold star on the top right corner, but its newest one has a black star. You'll also notice photos are black and white. It includes a few more security upgrades, but no need to renew your license early. As long as you have a gold or black star, you're up to date.

South Carolina is only on its first version, which is why the state is warning of that Oct. 1 deadline. There's an option to gets yours online, so we gave it a shot.

It was so quick, we actually completed the task while we were on hold with the DMV. Seriously, the whole thing took less than 6 minutes.
It ended up costing $25 with a $1.43 service fee, so $26.43 in all.

We did it, though, knowing full well this was optional. It says so right on the SC DMV website.

You're probably asking yourself, do I really need a REAL ID? For many of you -- maybe even most of you -- the answer is no. You only need one if you plan to fly or go to a secure federal facility. That's it.

But, if you read the fine print, you can use a passport or military ID instead. If you don't have a passport or a military ID, you still wouldn’t need one.

If you never plan to fly or visit a place like Fort Gordon, your state-issued ID is just fine.

We checked with Savannah River Site, too. A representative told us a REAL ID would make it easier, but it's not required. Your passport and even a combo of other documents could work. Same goes for Plant Vogtle.

You also don't need a REAL ID to vote, to drive, or even to apply for federal benefits, like Social Security because none of those things factored into

Also a bonus for South Carolina is how much money the state could profit. My license still had years left before it expired. So yeah, the state did profit from my upgrade. Let's say every licensed driver did that, so that's about 3.8 million drivers at $25 a pop. That's $95,000,000. It’s also $5,434,000 even if we just look at the service fee.

You'll have to pay it sooner or later, though. If you decide to skip the upgrade, you'll eventually have to pay to renew your license and get a new ID once it expires.

If you do need a REAL ID, SC DMV has three mobile offices to help speed up the process. One will be in several of our local counties next month. Then in April it will be in several more.

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