State looks at on-demand license plate issuance

09/05/2017 04:57 PM

FRANKFORT – Kentuckians could be getting actual new license plates for their vehicles in the future if Department of Vehicle Regulation officials have their way.

Department of Vehicle Regulation Commissioner John-Mark Hack told members of the Interim Joint Committee on Transportation on Tuesday that the current state plates are old, outdated, and could compromise public safety.

Hack told the committee he would like for the commonwealth to replace the current plates with a state-of-the-art print-on-demand license plate production and distribution system.

“We haven’t replaced license plates in Kentucky since 2005,” Hack said. “The results of not re-plating are pretty substantial and pretty serious. They compromise public safety, not having plates in good condition compromise law enforcement, they compromise bridge tolling, and they compromise Kentucky’s public image.

Currently, the Road Fund subsidizes inventory management of the plates storing, buying retail and selling wholesale, and paying freight both ways.

For county clerks, auditable transactions, inventory management, storage and security present daily challenges, Hack said. Workers at Kentucky Correctional industries, where the plates are manufactured, have a labor-intensive process on obsolete equipment which provides limited job skill marketability for successful re-entry to the workforce after they are released.

The new plan would also reduce the costs of specialized, personalized license plate program by making those plates on-demand and sending them directly to the taxpayer, as well as having county clerks maintain just two standard issue plates in county offices.

Currently, Kentucky offers 136 specialized license plate options.

All plates will have 5-year issuance cycles.

Hack sees the print-on-demand production solution as one which would eliminate most, if not all of the current issues and would be more cost effective for the taxpayers.

“It would eliminate physical inventory and material handling costs, it would save Road Fund dollars, it would save money on those registration decals that you would get that you manually apply to your plates because we would print one of those directly on the new plate,” Hack said.

Hack estimates Road fund operations savings of at least $320,694 per year in the plan is adopted by the General Assembly.

Meanwhile, Hack gave an update on the implementation of House Bill 410 which will bring about changes in the issuance of drivers licenses beginning January 1, 2019.

HB 410 would bring Kentucky in compliance with federal law by creating a “voluntary travel ID” driver license, personal ID card, and child ID card compliant with federal law.

The cost would be $48 for 8 years and places strict limitations on how the required personal information of each applicant is scanned, stored and shared, and the license and ID card can be used for federal identification purposes, including domestic air travel and military base admission.

“You’ll be in the clerk’s office for a shorter period of time we hope,” Hack said. “They’re going to photograph you and scan the documents and transmit that data to a single point of issuance and they’re going to issue you a temporary license. Within a 5 to 10 day time frame, you’ll get your permanent license in the mail, and that’s a model that has been successfully proven in a number of other states and federal jurisdictions, and throughout the private sector.”

One the system is fully implemented, Hack says Kentucky will have one of the nations most secure and technologically-advanced identity credential issuance systems.

It’s expected that the new licenses and ID cards will look different than the current version due to security enhancements available in new production technology.

Don Weber

Don Weber is a Video Journalist for Spectrum News and covers politics and education on Pure Politics, Kentucky’s only nightly program dedicated to state politics. Don is a lifelong Kentuckian and a graduate of Northern Kentucky University. He spent many years covering sports in the Northern Kentucky area before shifting primarily to politics. You can watch Don’s work weeknights at 7:00 and 11:30 on Pure Politics, available exclusively on Spectrum News, HD Channels 403 and 715. If you have a story idea you can reach Don at donald.weber@charter.com.

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