False rumor surrounding Kentucky drivers licenses causes social media firestorm

Published 5:59 am Saturday, June 5, 2021

False rumors about the issuance of drivers licenses created a social media firestorm in one Kentucky County as locals expressed concern about a change to how licenses are issued.

According to the posts surfacing across Facebook, Gov. Andy Beshear was falsely accused of “taking away the department where locals get their licenses at the courthouse in Harlan and Letcher counties.”

The legislation to do so, however, was passed in 2018 under former Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration.

Even though much of the information in the posts were false, it didn’t prevent the rumor from spreading like wildfire.

The post states locals will have to make the drive to Somerset, and Letcher Countians to Prestonsburg, as a result of the changes. It also urges individuals to take part in a petition to prevent the change by calling Beshear’s office and leaving voicemails.

“He has already taken so much and our counties have taken hard hits as is with everything from the coal industry and COVID-19, and now this,” the posts read. “Let’s stand up and let them know we are not going to take it. Who has time to drive that far? It’s insane.”

Though some information within the post is based on some factual insight, Harlan County Circuit Court Clerk Wendy Flanary said the rumor about changes being effective June 1, 2021, are false.

“The Department of Transportation is going to take over the issuing duties of drivers licenses and has already begun so in several counties,” she said. “It is a phased operation over the whole state of Kentucky with a deadline date of June 30, 2022.”

Flanary said although Harlan County is on the schedule, she does not know when it will take effect.

As of Tuesday, Flanary said she is still issuing drivers licenses and will do so until she is told she can no longer perform those duties.