BLYTHEWOOD, S.C. — Wait times at the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles are expected to increase drastically as we quickly approach the deadline to get a REAL ID.

On October 1st of this year, people will be required to have a REAL ID to be able to fly domestically and on commercial flights, to enter a secure federal building, or to visit a military installation.

Residents do not need a REAL ID to drive, vote, apply for or receive federal benefits, enter a federal facility that does not require an ID, access a hospital or receive life-saving services, or participate in law enforcement proceedings or investigations.

Kevin Shwedo, the Executive Director of the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (SCDMV), has been working for the department over the last ten years.

"We're encouraging everybody to come on and get their REAL IDs as soon as possible," said Shwedo.

Shwedo says the need for the REAL ID stemmed from 9/11. When people were still identities, the federal government created a program to help protect peoples' identities.

The law passed back in 2005 but Shwedo says South Carolina chose not to be a part of the program. In 2017, the Palmetto State decided to join the program. The SCDMV has been producing the REAL IDs since February of 2018.

The executive director says the federal government expects an access of a 100,000 people a day who will be turned away at checkpoints for airlines on the 1st of October.

"There could be as many as a million turned away from TSA checkpoints daily which will have an amazingly adverse impact on the economy. What are we telling people to do, get your REAL ID now," explained Shwedo.

According to Shwedo, about 1.1 million South Carolinian's have already got their REAL IDs. There are 4.3 million people who have IDs in the state. This means there's around 3 million people who have not gotten their REAL ID yet.

Officials with the SCDMV says now is the time to get your REAL ID if you don't already own one. Throughout the state, wait times at the DMV are averaging six to seven minutes.

With the influx of people coming in to get their REAL ID, wait times are expected to increase drastically to hours.

"We do believe that in the very near future, that are lines could climb up and become six and seven hours as other states continue to be multi-day processes."

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Shwedo says about 60 percent of the people who are getting credentials are choosing to receive the REAL ID. The other 40 percent are choosing not to get one. The executive director believes the consequences could be grave.

"We are great procrastinators. We'll wait until the last minute and that's my biggest fear. My biggest fear is from July through the 1st of October, we're going to see our first massive waves of outrageous lines."

Shwedo suggest people who are coming in to the DMV to get their REAL ID, come when they're not expecting a huge crowd. This could be avoiding lunch time or towards the end of the month. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays are typically their shortest wait days.

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To purchase a REAL ID, you must bring in the following documents. 

Some of your required documents may already be on file with the DMV if you received your very first SC beginner’s permit, driver’s license or identification card, or changed your license after holding another a license from another state during or after November 2010.

A REAL ID license is $25. A REAL ID card is $5 for people ages 5 to 16 and free for people ages 17 and older.

Proper documentation includes:

  • Proof of identity – a government issued birth certificate or valid US passport
  • Proof of Social Security Number (your SS card or a W-2 that has your name, SSN, and employer’s name)
  • Two proofs of current, physical South Carolina address (a current, unexpired SC driver’s license or identification card and a no more than 90-day-old utility bill with the same name and address)
  • Proof of all legal name changes (marriage license or court order issued by your county’s probate or family court.)

Some folks may be able to get their REAL ID online if they qualify. Since the SCDMV have been capturing files you have needed since November 2010, you may be able to apply online.

If you do qualify to apply online, you will receive your REAL ID in about a week.

The department says they've already sent a letter in the mail to half of those who are eligible to apply online. The other have of people will receive a letter by April. This will be amount a million people who will not have to come to the DMV.

Starting on Monday, January 6th, a mobile unit will be visiting every county in the state for the next five months.

According to a press release from the SCDMV, "SCDMV Self-contained Hazardous Area Response Kits (SHARKs) will be strategically placed for one day in each county over the next five months to serve as another convenient way to purchase a REAL ID. Mobile offices will be operational from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m."

People who go to the mobile unit will not receive their REAL ID's at the location. It will be mailed to them within ten business days.

The SCDMV is expected to visit Sumter sometime between February 10th-24th, Orangeburg from February 24th-28th, Kershaw, Richland, Lexington, and Fairfield from March 23rd-27th, Saluda from April 20th-24th, and Newberry from May 19th-20th.