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Grand jury wants driver’s licensing to stay in Letcher

Members of the Letcher County Grand Jury have officially announced their opposition to any plan that would require residents here to drive elsewhere to get their driver’s license renewed or take their driver’s test.

In their final report released earlier this month after being in session for 10 months, the grand jurors say they are “concerned with the possibility” that Letcher County residents may have to renew or obtain their driver’s license “in another place such as Jackson or Prestonsburg.”

“We are concerned about the hardship that would place on the elderly and those for whom traveling far distances is complicated; not to mention the inconvenience for all others,” the jurors say in the report.

The grand jurors’ concerns arise from the news that as of this coming October, residents of Letcher and Kentucky’s 119 other counties will no longer be allowed to board domestic air flights, enter military bases or federal courthouses and other government buildings unless they have a new driver’s license or identification card that complies with the federal Real ID Act, which was passed by Congress in 2005.

Because Kentucky did not take the proper steps to comply with the law until recently, regional centers are being set up across the state to handle the onslaught of residents showing up for the new driver’s licenses and ID cards. Letcher County residents will have to drive to Prestonsburg to get their new licenses. That’s a 56-mile drive from Whitesburg and a 54-mile drive from Jenkins.

According to the grand jury’s report, Letcher Circuit Court Clerk Mike Watts, whose office is in charge of driver’s licenses here, cautioned the jurors that a major effort is underway to have all types of driver’s licenses issued at the regional centers that are being opened for the Real ID program.

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