Bowling Green’s Stadium Park Plaza will soon be home to one of Kentucky’s 12 regional offices for producing the Real ID driver’s licenses under a new plan announced this week by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.
The 3,000-square-foot regional office on the Seventh Street side of Stadium Park Plaza will handle Real ID production for the 10 counties in KYTC’s District 3. Those IDs will be fully compliant with federal law enacted to increase security after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and will be needed in order to board domestic flights or enter federal buildings.
Matt Henderson, KYTC’s vehicle regulation commissioner, said the Real ID regional offices are expected to begin production of the licenses after the first of the year. He said Bowling Green, because a site has already been identified, will be one of the first regional offices to begin rolling out the licenses.
The announcement of the regional offices ends a plan to have county circuit court clerks produce the federally compliant IDs just as they have handled traditional driver’s licenses.
That process encountered problems and was scrapped in September in favor of the plan to open regional offices in Bowling Green, Paducah, Madisonville, Elizabethtown, Louisville, Lexington, Florence, Somerset, Manchester, Jackson, Prestonsburg and Morehead.
“It has been difficult because we had to switch gears,” Henderson said. “We’ve been scrambling to find the best path forward.”
Henderson said the 12 offices will eventually expand to as many as 30. For now, county circuit court clerks will continue to handle the traditional driver’s licenses that aren’t Real ID-compliant, but Henderson said the KYTC will eventually take over production of all licenses.
Kentucky is one of the last states to come up with a process for producing the licenses that conform to federal law and is now facing an Oct. 1 deadline to have the special licenses issued. After that date, the new license will be needed at airport security checkpoints or to visit military bases and federal buildings. A valid passport will be accepted for air travel and military base entry.
Henderson said having 12 regional offices will mean that “folks will have a decent driving time” to get their new licenses. But the Bowling Green office – serving Warren, Todd, Monroe, Metcalfe, Logan, Simpson, Allen, Barren, Butler and Edmonson counties – could create some inconvenience for residents of those outlying counties.
“People from those nine other counties driving into Bowling Green will increase our traffic, and it could be frustrating for the people coming from counties that are over an hour away,” said Brandi Duvall, Warren Circuit Court Clerk. “If they don’t have all the documentation that’s required, they’ll have to go back home and then make another trip.”
Despite such logistical problems, Duvall said she supports the KYTC’s plan to take over production of the licenses.
“I’m glad they’re taking this on,” Duvall said. “The circuit court clerks and the Transportation Cabinet came together and agreed that this was best. They’re taking back what they should have been doing.
“It’s going to be a transition, and they’re going to have an influx of people. That initial influx could be overwhelming, but ultimately it will be fine. The new ID will be good for eight years, and that’s a plus.”
According to the KYTC website, that eight-year license will cost $48 and will require a proof of identity document such as a birth certificate, proof of Social Security number and proof of residency such as a utility bill.
A standard driver’s license that isn’t Real ID compliant will still be available and will cost $43 for eight years.
– More information about the rollout of the new licenses can be found at the drive.ky.gov website.