No, it’s not a driver’s license where they replace your picture with someone hotter.
Nor is it where a stylist does your hair and your photo is taken with Vaseline on the lens. (Although I’d pay extra for that. My current driver’s license photo looks like I drove to the DMV straight from a fraternity hazing.)
The Enhanced Driver’s License is a project of Homeland Security designed to make ID’s harder to fake. This new version of a driver’s license has a host of new security features embedded into it. Some states already require this license in order to get on a plane. Others don’t yet.
But ALL will by Oct 1, 2020, and unless you want to shlep your passport around every time you fly domestically, you’ll need to get one.
Personally, I hate carrying my passport. I guard it like it has the nuclear codes, because years ago, someone stole my passport out of a dressing room at a Gucci outlet store in Italy, while I was modeling a superhot pair (no one had the courage to tell me otherwise) of leather pants.
I had to train to Florence and spend an entire day at the consulate getting a new one. They told me that passports go for $25,000 on the black market. Passports can’t be replaced quickly or easily, so who wants to carry one every time you fly from Grand Rapids to Slickpoo? (Be nice, that’s a real city in Idaho.)
It’s not required to have this license to drive your car – yet. And it costs a bit more in most states – generally $20-30 extra. But when you’re applying for a new license or renewing your current one, get the ENHANCED version. It’ll save you replacing it later.
Check online at your state’s DMV website. They’ll likely require you to bring extra forms of ID for an Enhanced license, like your passport and a utility bill showing your address.
A WORD TO THE WISE:
If you decide to get the Enhanced license by replacing your current license BEFORE your current license expires, DO NOT USE your old license once you’ve gone to apply for the new license. The DMV will punch a small hole in it which YOU may not notice, but which law enforcement and the TSA will.
I had six months remaining on my license when I went to the DMV to apply for the Enhanced license. They handed me back my old license along with that dumb paper temporary license, with no explanation. I thought, why carry this paper thing around? I’ll get my new license in a couple weeks and my old license has plenty of time left on it.
Imagine the scene at the airport a few days later when a super warm and friendly TSA agent looked up at me as if I were Bin Laden and said, “This license is invalid.”
My eyes grew wide as she pointed to the little hole and explained that that voided it.
“Where’s your passport?” she snapped.
“At home!” I yelled. “I’m flying to Missouri, not Marrakech!”
I started to panic and tried to joke with her, leaning into her podium confidentially. “Of course, I probably should have my passport. Missouri is a red state.”
“Sorry,” she said with the boundless compassion of a prison guard, “you can’t fly. Next!”
What followed was a 30-minute scene that may have involved tears and offerings of Godiva chocolates. I’m not proud. I eventually got on, after showing them every form of ID I had, including my gym membership and CostCo card.
But I had to have my husband FedEx my passport to me for the flight home.
Let me be your cautionary tale.