Getting a Real ID turns into ordeal for Saratoga resident

ByMichael Finney and Randall Yip KGO logo
Tuesday, January 29, 2019
Getting a Real ID turns into ordeal for Bay Area man
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By October 2020 all of us will need either a Real ID or passport to fly even within the United States. Here's what happened to a Bay Area man who tried to get one from the DMV early.

SARATOGA, Calif. (KGO) -- By October 2020 all of us will need either a Real ID or passport to fly even within the United States. One local man tried to get his Real ID from the DMV early, only to be frustrated.

Jim Webb and Gail Mathis of Saratoga have been scuba diving in the warm waters of Hawaii and other exotic locales for 30 plus years.

The passage of time has not slowed this couple.

RELATED: California's Real ID extension extended again allowing state's driver license to be used to fly

"I'm still old and decrepit," said Webb , "but I can still fall in the water."

He walked into the DMV to renew his license when he saw posters like this one about Real ID.

He didn't waste any time. He immediately gathered all his necessary documentation and returned to the DMV to submit his application.

Webb waited a month, but when he didn't receive the new identification, he called the Helpline.

"They said there was a problem," he said. "That I needed to go back and take the documentation again and go through all of the filling out the process or getting their picture taken again."

That wouldn't be easy. The wait times at the DMV of late have been notorious.

Webb skipped the lines at the DMV in nearby Los Gatos and instead made the one hour trek to the less busy Watsonville office.

He applied again and then waited and waited and waited for the Real ID to arrive in the mail.

RELATED: Oakland-based startup charging $94 to wait in DMV lines

The DMV finally told him to reapply again.

"I went through it six times," recalled Webb.

"Six Times?" a 7 On Your Side producer asked incredulously.

"Six Times," Webb said.

His wife watched the whole ordeal.

"What if you're license expires," said Mathis. "You end of getting a ticket because you're waiting on the DMV. So that was kind of frustrating. He was more patient that I was."

After failed try number six, Webb reached out to 7 On Your Side and we contacted the DMV.

The DMV told us he already had a Real ID senior identification card, but tried to switch it to a Real ID driver's license. Federal law does not allow a driver to have both.

RELATED: Proof of residency requirements causing trouble for Real ID's in California

"After being contacted by 7 On Your Side, we spoke with Mr. Webb, identified the issue, manually removed the REAL ID record on his senior identification card and issued a REAL ID driver license."

"You guys saved it," said a happy Mathis.

"One phone call from you folks and things started happening immediately," said Webb.

You'll find answers for frequently asked questions about Real ID here.

Take a look at more stories by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Sidehere.