Gov. Henry McMaster has signed a law allowing South Carolinians to obtain a driver's license that meets federal identification requirements for boarding a plane or getting onto a military base.
The law, passed 100-3 in the House and 40-0 in the Senate, reverses a decade-old law forbidding the state from complying with the federal REAL ID Act, which Congress passed in reaction to the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
Lawmakers decided looming deadlines that affect residents' ability to work and travel mattered more than old arguments about federal overreach and privacy.
But the new ID remains an option — not a mandate. It won't be needed to drive, vote or access benefits such as Social Security.
"If you do not think you'll be boarding a plane or visiting a federal facility, you may decide you don't want one," said Department of Motor Vehicles spokeswoman Lauren Phillips.
Regardless, she stresses there's no need for the state's 3.5 million drivers to rush to a DMV office. The new licenses won't even be available for at least six months. An exact date depends on how quickly the agency completes technology changes and printing tests.