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REAL ID deadline postponed amid coronavirus outbreak

The Oct.1 deadline for millions of California drivers to get a REAL ID has been indefinitely extended because of the spreading coronavirus, which should ease some of the pressure on the DMV, where it is taking up to three months to book appointments for a required office visit.

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President Donald Trump’s announcement this week was greeted with relief by drivers and travel groups. Trump did not say what the new deadline would be.

So far, 7.6 million state motorists have gotten a REAL ID. But about 16 million do not have a REAL ID, and without it or a valid passport would not be able to board domestic flights or enter other federal facilities beyond Oct. 1.

“I missed the notification about the REAL ID but as a senior citizen, I’ll not be venturing out to the DMV until this virus is well behind us,” said Sharon Taylor of San Jose. “I’m guessing that will be a number of weeks.”

Last week, the National Governors Association called for a one-year extension.

On Monday, Airports Council International President and CEO Kevin Burke called Trump’s decision “prudent,” adding that “in time of social distancing and requests for people to stay home, now is not the time to be sending more people to their local departments of motor vehicles.

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“Right now, a two-year postponement should provide time for the industry to fully recover while giving passengers, states, and the departments of motor vehicles time to prepare for a more efficient implementation of REAL ID.”

In a statement Monday, Steve Gordon, director of California’s DMV, said he was “encouraged” by the president’s remarks indicating that the federal government will extend the enforcement date for REAL ID. “This would relieve the urgency for people to visit local DMV offices and bolster the state’s efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” he said. “We look forward to learning more about the president’s direction and sharing that information with the public.”

The DMV has stopped accepting walk-ins, reduced seating in lobbies, granted 60-day extensions for license renewals and getting smog checks, reduced hours plus and reminding customers to maintain 6 feet distance from others.

But confusion remains.

Janis Fujitani of San Jose had an appointment for Saturday to get her REAL ID but read in this publication that Saturday hours have been suspended at field offices and assumed that her Saturday appointment no longer existed. Then she received an automated phone call from the DMV “reminding me of my appointment on Saturday.  Is the San Jose (office) going to be open for my appointment? I’ve tried calling the DMV but cannot get through to anyone who can clarify my situation.”

The DMV said Tuesday it is updating its automated calling service so customers shouldn’t continue to receive calls about Saturday appointments. When the DMV begins to reschedule canceled appointments, it will do so chronologically.

Join Gary Richards for an hourlong chat noon Wednesday at Look for Gary at or contact him at [email protected] or 408-920-5335.

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