Veteran and Military Driver Laws and Benefits in Kentucky

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The state of Kentucky offers a number of benefits and perks for those Americans who have either served in an Armed Forces branch in the past, or are current active military members.

Disabled veteran registration fee waiver

Disabled veterans are eligible for one Disabled Veteran license plate free of charge. To qualify, you must be a resident, or a non-resident stationed in Kentucky, with a service-connected disability of at least 50%, who has been provided a vehicle by the Veterans Administration. You must complete Application for Disabled Veterans Free Certificate of Registration and License Plates and bring it to your local County Clerk’s office.

Driver’s license veteran designation

Kentucky veterans are eligible for a veteran designation on a driver license or state ID card. This allows you to easily display your veteran status to businesses and other organizations that offer benefits to military members, without having to carry your discharge papers around everywhere you go. In order to get a license with this designation you must bring your DD 214 or other qualifying discharge document to your local Circuit Clerk.

Military honor plates

Kentucky offers several distinguished military honor license plates commemorating the different military branches, service medals, specific campaigns, and individual battles. Eligibility for each of these plates requires certain criteria be met, including proof of current or past military service (honorable discharge), proof of having participated in a specific battle, or discharge papers or U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs documentation of the award received.

Plates are available for the following:

  • Air Force Academy
  • Air Force Cross
  • Air Force Veteran
  • Army Cross
  • Army Veteran
  • Bronze Star with Valor Device
  • Civil Air Patrol
  • Coast Guard Academy
  • Coast Guard Veteran
  • Congressional Medal of Honor
  • Gold Star (spouse, mother, father, sibling)
  • Marine Veteran
  • Merchant Marine Academy
  • Military Academy
  • National Guard
  • Naval Academy
  • Navy Cross
  • Navy Veteran
  • Pearl Harbor
  • Prisoner of War
  • Purple Heart
  • Silver Star

Most Kentucky military plates require a fee of up to $26 on top of the standard registration fees. This includes a $5 mandatory donation to the Veterans Trust Fund. Many are eligible for online renewal – you can see the entire collection along with the fees and individual requirements for purchasing one of these plates here.

Military skills test waiver

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration created a provision in 2011 for the express purpose of authorizing state agencies to excuse qualified U.S. Military drivers from taking the skills test portion of the exam for a CDL (Commercial Driver License). In order to qualify to skip this part of the test, you have to apply within 12 months of being discharge from a military position that required the operation of a commercial type vehicle. In addition, your experience driving this type of vehicle must total two years or more.

There are some other restrictions and requirements, detailed on the application, which is a standard form composed by the federal government. Some states may provide their own, so check with your local SDLA. Qualified individuals must still take the written test.

Military Commercial Driver’s License Act of 2012

This piece of legislation gives states the authority to issue a commercial driver license to active servicemembers, including those in the National Guard, Reserves, Coast Guard, and Coast Guard Auxiliary. This benefit is available to you if you’re stationed in Kentucky, even if it’s not your home state.

Driver license renewal while deployed

Military members stationed out of state or deployed overseas are the only Kentucky drivers who are permitted to renew their driver license by mail. You need to contact the Circuit Clerk’s Office in your home county for information on how to renew by mail. If you are away from the state when your license expires, you have 90 days upon returning to the Commonwealth in order to renew your license without having to take the road and written tests over again.

If your vehicle has been stored on base at home in Kentucky during your deployment, you have a 20-day grace period upon returning home in which to renew the registration. During this time you will not be cited if driving the vehicle with expired registration. You must be able to provide proof that the vehicle was stored in your absence and that you were stationed elsewhere.

Alternatively, you may be eligible for online renewal, making it simple to keep your registration from expiring while you’re stationed away from home.

Non-resident military personnel driver license and vehicle registration

Kentucky honors out-of-state driver’s licenses and vehicle registration for non-resident military stationed within the state.

Active or veteran military personnel can read more at the state’s motor vehicle division website here.

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