REAL ID drivers’ licenses and ID cards are easy to spot; they all have a gold star in the corner.
This is a myth!
Fact: A variety of REAL ID indicators are valid and approved by the Department of Homeland Security. Steve Yonkers, Director, Identity and Credentialing/REAL ID Program, at the DHS, explains it this way: “In 2008 DHS distributed REAL ID Mark Guidelines to states on a limited basis…[with the gold star] cutout as a best practice for fully compliant cards.” Subsequently, he says, DHS allowed states to use either a solid gold star or gold star cutout on compliant cards. But, he explains, “The original DHS Guidelines did not accommodate the limitations of color engraving on polycarbonate cards. Consequently, DHS has accepted black stars or similar laser engraving colorations for polycarbonate cards.” And a few states have opted not to use any such indicator.
The bottom line: Your best bet is to consult a current, credible reference guide for state-specific information about REAL ID indicators.