Forcing all state DMVs to issue new standardized drivers' licenses under REAL ID seems bound for catastrophe, and the federal government's recent passport delay debacle provides more reason to expect the worst.
According to the AP, "The State Department has been flooded with passport applications since new rules requiring passports for air travelers went into effect in January. The resulting backlog has caused delays of up to three months for passports and ruined or delayed the travel plans of thousands of Americans." The House of Representatives recently voted to delay the rules for 17 months.
If the federal government with all of its resources is incapable of issuing passports in a timely manner, then how are states going to effectively implement the unfunded REAL ID mandate? The Director of the National Governors Association recently called the timelines and requirements of REAL ID "unrealistic," and we think that's being charitable. States have to bear almost all of the estimated 23 billion dollar implementation burden, and the Act's associated databases are currently vaporware. If the states can't move forward quickly, individuals have a lot more to lose than ruined travel plans, because they're going to need REAL IDs in order to access planes, trains, national parks, and court houses and possibly to get a job.