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Nine More Counties Joining Transition of Driver Licensing from Circuit Court Clerks to Transportation Cabinet in April

Bill Stephens

March 25th, 2021

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New regional offices offer ‘next-level’ services for Kentucky drivers

FRANKFORT, Ky. (March 24, 2021) – Nine more counties in April will make the transition to a new, secure driver-licensing system that gives customers more choices and modern services.

Licensing services in those counties, and ultimately the entire state, will be performed at specialized regional offices of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) instead of at the Office of Circuit Court Clerk in every Kentucky county.

“Kentucky’s system for driver license application, issuance and renewal is being taken to the next level with a network of driver licensing regional offices exclusively dedicated to licensing services,” KYTC Secretary Jim Gray said.

Making the transition will be Adair, Breathitt, Floyd, Hopkins, Madison, McCracken, Pulaski, Rowan and Russell counties. The Office of Circuit Court Clerk in those counties will cease nearly all in-person driver licensing services on Monday, April 26. The nine counties join Fayette, Franklin and Woodford counties, which already have made the transfer of services. The new system is to be phased in statewide by June 30, 2022.

“Over the years our circuit court clerks have done great work to get Kentuckians properly licensed,” Gov. Andy Beshear said. “But the times demand a modernized system that offers convenience and choices to the customer, plus greater security for personal information and the credentials themselves. Our Transportation Cabinet Driver Licensing Regional Offices are uniquely equipped for that.”

Residents of the nine counties making the transition in April may renew or apply for a REAL ID or new standard card version of driver licenses, permits, commercial driver licenses (CDLs) and ID cards at any Transportation Cabinet Driver Licensing Regional Office. Applicants are encouraged to make an appointment online, which can be done here. Walk-in customers are also welcome.

One temporary exception to the transition remains: Until June 30, 2021, the Office of Circuit Court Clerk in every county but Fayette will continue to process remotely submitted applications for renewal or replacement of standard-issue credentials, provided the card expires by that date and the applicant has not had a change of address or change of name and does not require testing performed by the Kentucky State Police. Get more information here. Remote renewal was a temporary, emergency measure directed by Official Order of Secretary Gray to safeguard public health by limiting person-to-person contact during the COVID-19 pandemic.

KYTC has driver licensing regional offices around the state, and the network will continue to grow. Offices currently are located in Paducah, Madisonville, Bowling Green, Owensboro, Louisville/Hurstbourne, Elizabethtown, Frankfort, Lexington, Burlington, Richmond, Columbia, Somerset, Jackson, Morehead and Prestonsburg. There also are smaller, temporary field offices at Louisville/Bowman Field and Catlettsburg operating by appointment only.

Kentucky State Police will continue to oversee all permit and license testing. Appointments for written or road testing can be made online at kentuckystatepolice.org/driver-testing. Until further notice, testing will continue in current locations for counties being transitioned off license and permit issuance. Once testing is successfully completed, customers will visit a KYTC Driver Licensing Regional Office to apply for the permit or license.

Transition of licensing services was officially launched with passage of House Bill 453 during the 2020 Kentucky General Assembly.

“Customer service is our highest priority and circuit court clerks will continue to help the Transportation Cabinet make this transition go as smoothly as possible,” said Douglas Ray Hall, Floyd County circuit court clerk and president of the Kentucky Association of Circuit Court Clerks. “It has been our pleasure to provide driver’s license services to Kentuckians for many years, and we appreciate Secretary Gray and his staff for their hard work in moving to this new model.”

Next Level Licensing
Through a phased transition ending June 30, 2022, all Kentuckians will eventually visit Driver Licensing Regional Offices in targeted zones across the state to apply for or renew an operator  license, permit, CDL or ID card instead of visiting the Office of Circuit Court Clerk in their county of residence. The gradual shift is more than a change in locations. It represents a new licensing model that provides Kentuckians with modern services that offer more choices in how they want to be served.

“It’s a new era for licensing,” Secretary Gray said. “With a single agency at the helm of processing credential requests, we’ll be able to offer consistent, innovative advancements that take licensing to the next level in Kentucky.”

Transportation Cabinet management of all licensing will offer the following advancements:
– Online appointment scheduling. Walk-in customers are still welcome.

– Coming soon: online license renewal for REAL ID or standard version cardholders who have not had a change in name or address.

– A choice between a REAL ID or new standard card version. Both feature security upgrades and are available in either a four-year or eight-year card lifespan, potentially doubling the renewal time period. Commercial driver’s licenses are only available as eight-year credentials.

– Residents can visit ANY regional office, regardless of where they live in Kentucky.

– Periodic “Popup Driver Licensing” visits to counties without a regional office to offer on-site application and renewal services.

– Applicants will receive a temporary identification document at the end of the transaction until the permanent card arrives at their home address. This reduces the wait time for a card to be printed and boosts security in the card issuance process by eliminating in-office card production machinery.

REAL ID
While Kentucky will continue offering the option of a standard driver’s license, a REAL ID or other form of federally approved identification, such as a passport or military ID, will be needed as of Oct. 1, 2021, for passing through airport security checkpoints to board a U.S. commercial flight, visiting a military base or accessing a federal building or facility that requires identification. More information is available at drive.ky.gov. Obtaining a REAL ID for the first time requires applicants to apply in-person at a Driver Licensing Regional office and present specific, required documentation. A list of acceptable documentation and a link to take an interactive quiz that populates a personalized list of documents is available here

To maintain the safest possible environment, employees and customers of the Driver Licensing Regional Offices are required to adhere to Gov. Beshear’s Healthy at Work standards, which include wearing a mask and observing social distancing. Surfaces are cleaned and touch pad equipment sanitized after each usee.

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