New law provides free IDs for Pennsylvanians experiencing homelessness

New law provides free IDs for Pennsylvanians experiencing homelessness

The state Department of Transportation and Department of Human Services announced that Pennsylvanians experiencing homelessness are now able to obtain a free initial photo ID or renewal of a photo ID as a result of Act 131 of 2020, which Gov. Tom Wolf signed into law in late 2020.

“This new law makes significant changes to increasing many of our residents’ independence, ultimately enhancing their quality of life,” said PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian.

“All Pennsylvanians deserve access to the basic needs we all have: adequate food, safe housing, quality healthcare and clean water. Eliminating barriers to basic needs for individuals experiencing homelessness is simply the right thing to do,” said DHS Secretary Teresa Miller. “I applaud the General Assembly, Gov. Wolf and PennDOT for their collaboration on a project that will make a meaningful difference in the lives of Pennsylvanians.”

To obtain an ID at no cost, individuals experiencing homelessness must apply in person at a PennDOT Driver License Center and must meet identification and other requirements. The applicant must inform the Driver License Center counter staff they are applying for or renewing their existing Pennsylvania photo ID and are requesting a free ID due to their homeless status. The individual will be required to certify on the application that they are homeless as defined in Section 103 of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act.

For initial issuance of a photo ID, the applicant must bring one acceptable proof of identification, Social Security card or Social Security Administration ineligibility letter and acceptable form(s) or address verification. In the case of homeless individuals, PennDOT will accept a letter from a shelter indicating an individual is staying at the shelter or uses the shelter as an address of residency to pick up mail.

For renewal of a photo ID, the applicant must renew at a PennDOT Driver License Center. The applicant will be required to certify on the application that they are homeless, and a fee will be waived at the time of the renewal.

The law covers initial issuance and renewals for photo IDs for those who qualify for free issuance due to their homeless status. Duplicate IDs are not covered under the law change. Duplicate fees continue to apply and cannot be waived. The law does not cover nor does it allow for waiver of any driver license product-related fees.

“Difficulty getting IDs, including because of lack of funds, is a huge barrier for many of our clients who are homeless, and not having an ID makes it very difficult to get housing, to get medical care, to find a job, and to get other types of help,” said Amy Hirsch, managing attorney for Community Legal Services of Philadelphia. “Getting an ID is a tremendously important step forward for people who are homeless that helps people stabilize their lives, and take care of themselves and their children. We are excited that this program removes the barrier caused by needing to pay for a state ID.” 

Visit dmv.pa.gov for more information. ••

TMA Bucks offers tips to help commuters stay safe on the road this winter

TMA Bucks is reminding commuters that winter weather conditions can affect drives, and that being prepared is the key to successfully navigating winter roads throughout Bucks County.

Winter weather can quickly bring unexpected poor driving conditions, so make sure both you and your vehicle are ready for ice and snow. It’s important to limit distractions when driving, but especially during adverse weather.

“The first thing to keep in mind is, if winter weather is forecast, that you should aim to eliminate all unnecessary travel if possible,” said TMA Bucks executive director Stephen Noll. “We all know how valuable telecommuting has become this past year, so it is a great tool to keep us safe in this situation as well stopping the spread. This will allow PennDOT and municipal public works departments to more easily perform their winter duties and keep you and your family safe. However, if you have to travel, there are several tips you should know for safe driving during the winter season.”

  • Remove ice and snow from windows, mirrors and all vehicle lights before you drive and as often as needed
  • Remove snow and ice from the hood and roof of your vehicle; state law states that if snow or ice from your vehicle strikes a vehicle or person and causes death or injury, you can be ticketed
  • Slow down and increase following distance
  • Avoid sudden stops and starts
  • Beware of roads that may look wet, but are actually frozen, often referred to as “black ice”
  • Use extra caution on bridges and ramps, where ice can often form without warning
  • Do not use cruise control while driving on snow-covered roads
  • State law requires you to turn on your headlights when your wipers are on
  • Use your low beams in particularly bad weather, especially in cases of heavy or blowing snow
  • Do not pass or get between trucks plowing in a plow line (several trucks plowing side by side)

“It is very important to remember that Bucks County has many rural, two-lane highways, so please have patience and allow PennDOT time to reach these roads,” said Noll. “It is also worth noting that not all highways in Bucks County are state highways. Some are municipally-owned and are treated and plowed by the borough or township.”

Several Bucks County municipalities have snow emergency policies. Be aware of your township/borough’s policy and comply to help keep the roads clear and safe.

Visit tmabucks.com for more information. ••