FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) - The acting commissioner of the Department of Vehicle Regulation told a legislative committee Tuesday they continue to open regional license issuing offices across the state, with more expected in the future.
During an appearance before the Interim Joint Transportation committee, Matt Cole said they are off to a great start in moving license issuance from circuit clerk’s offices to Transportation Cabinet facilities following the passage of legislation mandating the change.
“We already have eight regional offices open and five temporary field offices that are issuing credentials at this time,” he told the panel. “We have three more regional offices that we are opening in the next three to four weeks, and two more that should come online around the end of October.”
Cole said they are evaluating new sites, “Where we can best serve the Commonwealth by continuing to review our needs by considering both population and ensuring evenly spaced offices throughout the state.”
He testified they hope to have 16 or 17 locations by the end of the year, and eventually 25 to 28 regional offices. In addition, they have ordered some mobile offices which will be used in counties without a full regional office. Those should be available starting in the fall.
Cole noted despite the COVID-19 pandemic there are still three ways to renew or replace a lost license.
“Go to the Circuit Court Clerk’s office in their county of residence, if that office is taking walk-in traffic,” he stated. They can use the mail-in form that can be found at the Administrative Office of the Courts website and send it to their circuit clerk’s office. Make an appointment with any Transportation Cabinet regional office, by going to frive.ky.gov. They also take walk-ins, as their daily capacity allows.”
Kentucky State Police Capt. Marshall Johnson, who heads the Driver Testing Branch, also appeared before the committee. He told members they stopped operations in March, when the COVID-19 state of emergency was declared, but they resumed knowledge testing in June and road testing in July and continue working through a large backlog.
“As of August 31, we administered 33,400 knowledge tests across the state,” Johnson said. “At regional testing sites, like Floyd County, we tested almost 800 applicants. The Franklin County location tested over 2,700 applicants. Hardin County, we tested over 900 applicants, and so on. Many of those lo0cations were very successful in putting a dent in the backlog.”
He testified road tests resumed in most locations during July. “Unlike permit testing, the challenge was it is a one-to-one ratio, as one examiner gets in the car with an applicant at a time. Still, our examiners have been conducting road tests at maximum capacity since July.”
According to Johnson, there were 19,400 permit holders waiting to take their driving test, when they were halted. “Since August, we have tested 17,891 eligible permit holders statewide, so essentially we have conducted over five months of road tests in about two-and-a-half months.”
He said the wait is now down to about one month for those seeking t have a road test.