LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Kentucky is eyeing roughly a dozen or more locations to handle applications for Real IDs, the new driver’s licenses the state must offer by next October.
Senate President Robert Stivers said Thursday that officials have discussed 12 to 18 sites, including offices in government buildings that could open quickly. Transportation Secretary Greg Thomas acknowledged that figure is in “the ballpark.”
In September, Kentucky changed its longstanding plan to make the licenses available in each county. It now plans to launch a network of “regional centers” where people can apply for the credentials, which will be needed to board domestic flights next year unless a traveler has a passport.
Transportation officials have yet to announce details of their plan. But Stivers, a Republican from Manchester in southeastern Kentucky, said 12 to 18 locations should be adequate “if you strategically locate them.”
He mentioned the possibility of sites in Louisville, Lexington, northern Kentucky, Ashland, Pikeville, Hazard, London, Corbin, Somerset, Bowling Green, Owensboro, Paducah and Murray, in addition to Richmond and Morehead and more.
“It won’t be something that would tremendously inconvenience anybody when you start talking about within an hour’s drive to get a government ID that is compliant with the Real ID standards at the federal level,” Stivers said.
The Transportation Cabinet is overseeing Kentucky’s Real ID program. Earlier this month, Vehicle Regulation Commissioner Matt Henderson said statewide locations will be open “in the next couple of months.”
By Oct. 1, 2020, all states and territories are required to comply with the 2005 Real ID Act. It set new standards for personal identification cards, such as driver’s licenses, aiming to make it harder to counterfeit or forge documents.
The Uncovered by WDRB News podcast recently discussed Kentucky's Real ID saga:
As the new credentials become available, Kentuckians will choose between two driver's licenses:
One is called a “voluntary travel ID,” or Real ID. It functions like a current Kentucky driver’s license, letting its holder drive, buy alcohol and other age-limited purchases, board domestic flights and enter military posts.
The other type is known as a “standard driver's license,” which is similar to the current license. It will be good for driving, age-restricted purchases and entering federal buildings for basic services but can’t be used on its own to board a domestic plane.
For now, Kentucky offers Real IDs in Franklin and Woodford counties. Residents of Anderson County can get their IDs at the Transportation Cabinet’s headquarters in Frankfort.
Even though it isn’t offering the Real IDs outside those three counties, Kentucky is technically among the 47 states that meet the federal requirements, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
“Yes, we have a deadline in 2020,” Stivers said, “but I don’t think it’s going to be difficult to meet that deadline.”