London gaining regional driver's license facility

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Jun. 1—London will be gaining a new regional driver's license facility, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear has announced.

The new facility is part of an ongoing effort by the commonwealth to shift from driver's licensing services being done in offices of Circuit County Clerks to Driver Licensing Regional Offices by June 2022.

"On Team Kentucky, we're working every day to make sure all government services offered are up to the standard our families deserve," Beshear said. "Driver's licenses aren't just credentials, they're keys. They unlock so many other doors, like making your voice heard in an election, being able to drive to school or work as you pursue your goals or being able to travel on a plane or visit a military base to see loved ones."

As of writing, 106 of the 120 Kentucky Offices of Circuit County Clerks have transferred to regional offices, with most locations of new offices identified to open in interim office spaces to fast-track expanded access.

"The transition to a modern, secure network of Driver Licensing Regional Offices has been years in the making, in coordination and cooperation with the Kentucky Circuit County Clerks association," KYTC Secretary Jim Gray said. "Circuit court clerks will be able to focus solely on court duties, while at the regional offices, driver licensing is our only business."

Along with the new regional facilities being installed, thousands of Kentuckians have skipped the trip entirely by renewing their licenses online and through the mail, an option that had previously not been available. Another new availability to residents of the commonwealth is the ability to renew your license for eight years as opposed to the standard four, while a four-year renewal remains an option.

Those seeking to renew their licenses will be given a temporary printed license, with your license stapled to the back, that can be used until the new license arrives in the mail at their home address, which was a process that is intended to limit wait times for printing credentials during visits, as well as improving security by eliminating in-office card production machinery.

Senator Brandon Storm applauded the decision to add a facility in London, something he had a part to play in since being elected.

"I am extremely excited to let everyone in Laurel County and the surrounding region of Southeastern Kentucky know that since being sworn in as your senator of the 21st district, I have endeavored to see a regional driver licensing location designated to London, given the 2020 census data establishing a population of 62,613 residents in Laurel County," Storm wrote. "I want to thank my colleagues, Laurel County Circuit Clerk Roger Schott, [Kentucky state representative] Derek Lewis and [state representative] Shane Baker for working diligently alongside me in this undertaking."

While the commonwealth will continue to allow residents to obtain a standard license, Kentucky will continue its push towards switching to Real IDs, with the documentation being required for residents 18 and older in order to board commercial flights, access to military bases and federal buildings that currently require identification once federal enforcement begins in May 2023.

"This was a requirement set forth by the federal government put into place years ago that requires states to go over to the Real ID system," Lewis said. "It was a very daunting process, a very comprehensive one, and I know no one likes change, but in the long term I believe we did all we could to help Laurel County and surrounding counties to have their own facility."

Lewis would go on to list the aforementioned longer renewal periods as well as online renewals as several benefits of the program.

To apply for a Real ID, residents are required to visit their regional licensing office in person, though renewals may be done online, and will require applicants to have proof of identity, proof of residency, proof of social security and proof of any legal identity changes.

Despite the switch from circuit county clerks to regional office workers, Kentucky State Police will still administer all driving permits and license testing, which will continue to be offered Monday through Friday by appointment. Regional offices will not be able to offer testing for drivers.

Opening dates and addresses for locations have yet to be determined and will be announced after arrangements are finalized.