LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – New Kentucky driver's licenses won't debut as soon as expected, but they should be available statewide "by the end of the summer," state officials said Monday.
The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet announced last month that the beefed-up credentials would roll out in a pilot program in Woodford and Franklin counties in "early April" before other counties started offering them two to three weeks later.
After that, all counties would have them within two months, or by sometime in June.
The cabinet, which is overseeing the rollout of the Real ID-compliant credentials, declined to answer specific questions about the schedule in recent weeks. But on Monday it issued a news release saying it planned to introduce the new cards "in the coming months."
It did not give specific dates.
The new system is largely operational, although more time is needed to "re-test system patches that are released when flaws are identified," Matt Henderson, Kentucky's vehicle regulation commissioner, said in the release.
And the release said the state's vendor, Idemia Identity & Security USA, is working to "resolve challenges related to complex license endorsements and features, such as combination licenses."
A cabinet spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a voice mail Monday seeking comment.
Circuit court clerk’s offices in Franklin and Woodford counties told WDRB News last week that they had not been kept updated about the pilot program, even though it was "early April."
Greg Helton, the Knox County Circuit Court Clerk and president of the state clerk's association, said in a telephone interview Monday that he learned about the schedule change in the press release.
Helton said some residents of Knox County have asked about the delays. "We tell them, 'We know. They're still testing it.'”
Last August, Kentucky Transportation Secretary Greg Thomas said the rollout would occur in January. That was later pushed back to March, then April.
Helton said he's not concerned with the delays.
“I would rather them take longer testing it then roll us out on something that’s broken, that doesn’t work," he said.
In the meantime, the Transportation Cabinet is urging Kentuckians to gather documents they’ll need as the state makes its credentials more secure – part of meeting a post-9/11 federal requirement.
Kentucky will offer two different driver's licenses.
A “voluntary travel ID” will provide the same benefits as a current Kentucky driver’s license, allowing its holder to drive, buy alcohol and make other age-limited purchases, board domestic flights and enter military posts.
To get that card, four documents must be presented when applying at a local circuit clerk’s office. They include one primary proof of identity, such as an original or certified birth certificate or passport; a document that proves a social security number, such as an unlaminated social security card or current year’s W-2 wage statement; and two proofs of residence, such as a property tax bill, utility statement or lease agreement.
A “standard driver's license” is good for driving, making age-restricted purchases and entering federal buildings for basic services. But after October 2020, the Transportation Security Administration won’t accept it for air travel within the U.S. Instead, a passport or other federal ID would be required.
For a driver renewing and sticking with a “standard” license, no additional documents are needed.
As Kentucky makes the change, it will also end the longstanding practice of the state’s 120 county circuit clerks processing the documents. Those offices still will take applications and process paperwork, but a Massachusetts-based company will issue credentials.
Jefferson County Circuit Court Clerk David Nicholson’s office said in a statement that it is participating in regular conference calls with the transportation agency.
Nicholson’s office said it, like Kentucky’s citizens, “has been patiently waiting for the final rollout schedule from the Transportation Cabinet.
While the Transportation Cabinet has additional issues that must be addressed, (the clerk’s office) still stands ready to receive the new equipment and training to begin processing the new credentials,” the statement said.