Seeking The Star

On October 1, 2020, the Transportation Security Administration will stop accepting the old Ohio driver’s license as a form of identification.  If you want to travel after that date, you need to have a new, compliant Ohio driver’s license — one with a little star in the upper right-hand corner.  Because deadlines such as this have a tendency to sneak up on you, and then suddenly you’re desperately trying to do everything at the last minute, Kish and I decided to be rational and proactive instead.

web1_compliantStep one in seeking the star means pulling together documentation to prove that you are who you say you are.  Kish assembled separate packets of compliant documents for each of us.  My documents included my current driver’s license, my passport, my original, dog-eared from being carried around in my wallet forever, paper Social Security card, issued in about 1969 when my family still lived in Bath, Ohio — I can’t believe I still have it, more than 50 years later — and multiple bills that show our current residence address.  (You can get information on the necessary documents here.)  Getting the required documents together is a big part of the process; I’ve heard about people who had to go back several times to get everything they needed.

Step two meant going to the sprawling BMV location on Alum Creek Road.  The office opens at 8 a.m., and we got there just as the doors were being unlocked.  There was already a line, and we steeled ourselves for a long wait — but that BMV location knows what it is doing.

We first went through a kind of processing line, where employees determined what we were there for and, in our case, looked at our documents, told us we had what we needed (Yay!  Thanks, Kish!) and put the documents into a specific order, then gave us a number and directed us to the waiting area.  When our number was called a few minutes later, we dealt with a pleasant, professional woman who looked at the documents, typed our information into the system, asked us background questions, gave us the eye test, collected the fees for the new licenses, and then ultimately took our pictures — which, in my case, was remarkably unflattering.  The whole process, from beginning to end, took about a half hour and was remarkably efficient and painless.  We’ve all heard people make fun of the BMV, but these employees really did a good job.  I even responded to an on-line survey to give them kudos for their efforts.

We’re supposed to get our new, compliant licenses in a few weeks, which will be step three in seeking the star.  Until then, we’ll be carrying around our old license, with a kind of paper version of our new license information.  We’ll also be carrying around a welling sense of pride that we didn’t wait and get snarled in a last-minute crush in our quest for the star.  It feels good to be proactive every once in a while.