Counties won't host Real ID applications

Duncan

Lyon County travelers wanting a special driver's license needed in less than a year to board domestic airline flights will likely have to travel out of town to get those credentials.

Matt Henderson, commissioner of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet's (KyTC) Department of Vehicle Registration, said his agency has scrapped its original plan to issue federal Real ID-compliant credentials in each of the commonwealth's 120 circuit clerk offices. Instead, the state plans to set up 12 regional offices -- one in each highway district -- to issue the voluntary travel IDs, with a hope to eventually grow that to as many as 30 locations

The means residents of Lyon and the 11 other counties in Highway District 1 will share a common office to apply for the enhanced credentials.

That site could possibly be in Paducah, the largest city in the district and home to the highway district office.

Though Lyon Circuit Clerk Kimberly Duncan will not be hosting Real IDs applications, her office will continue to issue standard driver's licenses and personal identification cards to residents of the county.

Only the new voluntary travel IDs will not be offered in each county.

Duncan said she continues to get questions in her office about the voluntary travel ID.

"We have had several people inquire about it," she said. "But it has kind of surprised me that more haven't."

While the federal Real ID law has been on the books for 15 years, and there have been several years of extensions, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security says that on Oct. 1, 2020, no one will be able to board a domestic airline flight, enter a federal courthouse or go onto a military base without a Real ID.

Half of the nation's 50 states and the District of Columbia are already in compliance.

"Shifting our model to a regional model was the best path forward to ensure Kentuckians who want a voluntary travel ID can request one before the Oct. 1, 2020, Real ID enforcement date," Jordan Rachel Smith, KyTC Office of Public Affairs deputy executive director, told The Herald Ledger.

The program in Kentucky, though, has had numerous issues since a pilot project began at the Franklin Circuit Clerk's office earlier this year.

That includes the length of time needed to process applications, leading KyTC to pursue regional offices over a statewide rollout in 2019 planned for each of the state's 120 counties.

Since the state law establishing the Real ID program envisioned they would be issued at all circuit clerk offices, Henderson said the General Assembly will need to pass legislation during the 2020 session allowing for regional offices instead.

He hopes to have, at the least, 12 regional centers up and running by early next year.

Smith indicates the Real ID is not for everyone and that travelers can also use a passport or a passport card to comply with the October 2020 requirements, each of which can be applied for locally and later delivered by mail.

For more information on the program, including the additional documents needed to apply for a Real ID, visit https://bit.ly/349CpCP.

(Kentucky Today contributed to this story.)