New, More Secure Kentucky Licenses Unveiled

Sep 24, 2018

Kentuckians got their first look Monday at the commonwealth's upgraded driver’s licenses and travel IDs, which are designed to better thwart counterfeiters. 

The first thing drivers are likely to notice: new black-and-white ID photos. The switch from color may seem like a step backward, but authorities promise the detailed, laser-engraved grayscale portraits will make it easier for law enforcement and retailers to identify card users.

The new background incorporates Kentucky symbols like the state seal and state flower, along with a 3-D image of the Capitol. But, as Department of Vehicle Regulation Commissioner Matt Henderson told local media, the announcement is about more than designs.  

"When this rolls out in January of 2019, Kentucky will have one of the most secure credentials in the nation," he told reporters. "And while the new look frankly is awesome, I want to make sure that everybody understands the moving force behind this initiative is for us to increase the security of our credentials."

The cards – both a standard driver’s license and a voluntary travel ID that can be used to board flights and enter military bases – comply with federal security guidelines passed in the wake of the 9/11 terrorists attacks.

In addition to the redesigned appearance, the cards will also be printed at a secure facility. Drivers won’t see the updated IDs on offer until early 2019, as the state begins to phase them in county-by-county.