Warren County’s regional Real ID office is now open at the new Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Department of Vehicle Regulation office at 360 E. Eighth Ave. in Stadium Park Plaza near Starbucks, but it will be serving Warren County residents only for now.
In what a KYTC news release called a “soft launch” of the state’s first regional driver’s license office outside Frankfort, the office will initially offer two stations to process Real ID licenses for Warren County residents.
In coming months, it will serve a 10-county region in a new office location with expanded capacity.
Warren County residents who have a current driver’s license, permit or identification card may apply for a Real ID-compliant version if they want to use a state-issued credential to meet upcoming Real ID requirements that go into effect Oct. 1. Those IDs will be fully compliant with federal law enacted to increase security after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and will be needed to board domestic flights or enter federal buildings.
Matt Henderson, KYTC’s vehicle regulation commissioner, made the announcement in November that KYTC would be rolling out 12 regional Real ID sites in early 2020.
The announcement of the regional offices ended 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.
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. After Oct. 1, 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.”
The KYTC website said the new license 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.
“To avoid a rush, it’s important for residents to know they may already have a valid form of Real ID, like a passport or military ID, they can use instead of the new license if they want to visit military bases and fly within the U.S. starting this October,” Duvall said. “Current driver’s licenses will continue to remain valid for driving, voting and general identification purposes.”
Warren County residents may visit the KYTC regional field office from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays. Applicants will receive a temporary 30-day document that serves as a driving credential until the permanent card arrives in the mail at the applicant’s residence.
Only debit and credit cards will be accepted (no cash or check). Regional offices are not equipped to serve applicants who require testing or re-testing. The cost of a four-year Real ID license is $24 and $48 for an eight-year license.
– More information about the KYTC’s rollout of the Real ID regional offices can be found at the drive.ky.gov website.
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