Politics & Government

Will a Kentucky driver’s license get you on a flight next year? Maybe. Maybe not.

The status of states’ compliance with the federal REAL ID Act as of September 2017.
The status of states’ compliance with the federal REAL ID Act as of September 2017.

Kentucky’s 3.5 million licensed drivers won’t be able to use their licenses to board domestic airline flights after Jan. 22, 2018, unless the state gets another extension to comply with federal security regulations approved in 2005.

State Vehicle Regulation Commissioner John-Mark Hack said Wednesday he is confident the federal government will grant Kentucky the additional 12-month extension it applied for this week.

“We have done a substantial amount of work and we have documented progress to be able to show the Department of Homeland Security that we are working in full compliance,” he said.

Kentucky already has an extension from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security until Oct. 10, 2017, to put off implementation of a new high-security licensing system required by the REAL ID Act of 2005.

If Kentucky’s latest request is approved, another three-month extension probably will be needed to get Kentucky to Jan. 1, 2019, when a state law enacted this year — House Bill 410 — to comply with REAL ID takes effect.

“We simply need more time to identify a vendor and get the new law up and running,” said Hack.

Kentucky is one of 24 states that have been granted more time by the federal government to implement REAL ID.

State Vehicle Regulation Commissioner John-Mark Hack explains to reporters on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017, where the new Real ID driver's licenses will be needed to gain access.

Gov. Matt Bevin signed legislation earlier this year to bring Kentucky into compliance with the federal regulations. A year earlier, he had urged lawmakers to pass a similar bill, only to veto it when it arrived on his desk.

Members of the Tea Party claimed the law, which was enacted in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, could be used to invade their privacy.

Under the new law, Kentuckians will have a choice to stick with a standard license, which does not require the scanning of personal documents, or request an enhanced license, which does.

An eight-year license that complied with the Real ID Act would cost $48. A standard license, also good for eight years, would cost $43. The current cost of a license is $20 for 4 years. The extra fees raised by HB 410 are estimated to generate nearly $10 million a year in revenue for the state.

The standard driver’s license cannot be used to board domestic flights and enter military bases.

The state Transportation Cabinet plans to conduct a public education campaign in 2018 about the new license system, Hack said.

Jack Brammer: (502) 227-1198, @BGPolitics