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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

New Kentucky Driver's License Program Promises Greater Security

John-Mark Hack, commissioner of the Department of Vehicle Registration addresses Campbell County Fiscal Court.
--> A big change is coming for the more than 3.5 million Kentucky driver's license and personal identification card holders.

A new law that will go into effect in January 2019, will change how state driver's licenses and ID cards are issued and will bring the commonwealth's system into compliance with federal laws passed after the 9-11 attacks in 2005.

Located at 18 N. Fort Thomas Avenue, in the Hiland Building. 
According to John-Mark Hack, commissioner of the Department of Vehicle Registration in the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, the new licenses will not only finally meet federal standards, but will be much more secure than the current system.

"When we are fully implemented, Kentucky will have one of the nation's most secure, most technologically advanced identity credential issuance systems in the nation," he said.

 The need for increased security

"Our current system has a relatively higher risk of fraud compared to other systems," he explained. "We have a highly decentralized driver's license issuance system. We have 120 independently elected circuit court clerks who are the legal issuance authorities."

There are 142 locations across the state that issue driver's licenses and id cards. That's "142 cameras, 142 supplies of blank license card stock and 142 supplies of laminate. With everything you need to make driver’s licenses and personal ID cards spread out over 142 not completely secure locations, you can imagine why our system is not compliant with federal law."

House Bill 410, passed in March of this year, will offer two tiers of licenses depending on the travel needs of the cardholders and double the time between renewals. Most important for security will be the reduction of issuing authorities from 120 down to one that will be a more secure location within the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. 

Two tiers and a longer renewal

The circuit court clerks' offices will continue to serve as the point of contact for customer service and will take applications and required forms of identification, but the license card will be issued through the mail. People will be issued temporary cards, good for 30 days, until their licenses arrive.

The two tiers include new voluntary travel IDs and standard licenses or personal identity cards.

The voluntary travel ID will be issued to those who want to use their ID to board commercial domestic flights. This card also allows the holder to enter certain restricted government facilities such as nuclear power plants and some military bases. The voluntary travel ID requires more information including proof of identity, two out of three forms including a Social Security card, certified birth certificate or a U.S. issued passport, as well as two proof of residence items such as a bank statement or utility bill.

The standard driver's licenses and personal ID cards require less paperwork (the same information that is currently required) but cannot be used for air travel or to get into restricted facilities. Standard card holders will still be able to enter government buildings commonly open for public business such as the Social Security office or courthouses.

Costs for the cards will include a slight increase to help pay for the new system. Current licenses and identification cards cost $20 and are good for four years. The new volunteer travel ID will be good for eight years but will cost $48, a fifty-cent increase per year. The standard cards will also be good for eight years and will cost $43.

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Rolling it out 

Hack emphasized that another improvement better protects citizen’s personal information. "The bill also ensures your personal identity information will be kept only in the state database system and not shared with other states or the federal government except for the strictly limited purpose of fraud detection. For that, they have to have a very credible reason to ask for the information."

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued an extension for compliance to the state that will expire next fall. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has filed for an extension that, if granted, will give the state more time to implement and roll out the new system.

To avoid confusion, Hack says his department will be issuing information as it becomes necessary. Those whose renewal dates fall in 2019 will have many questions and concerns, but the department's goal is to roll out the program in a controlled manner to avoid as much confusion as possible. Right now his department is waiting to learn if an extension has been granted.

The state also issued a request for proposals for a new vendor for the equipment and production supplies, and a decision on that should come very soon. Hack says his department’s goal is to select a vendor by the end of 2017 to have a full year to work on the new system.

More information will come available soon. Keep an eye on the website for details as they unfold.

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