Louisiana Debuts Digital Driver's License

The app is the first digital driver's license program in the country.

The app is the first digital driver's license program in the country. Shutterstock

 

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About 27,000 residents have downloaded the LA Wallet app, which launched last week.

About 27,000 motorists in Louisiana have downloaded a new digital driver’s license app, which allows drivers to carry a copy of their identification on their smartphones for use at traffic stops and checkpoints.

Released last week, the app, LA Wallet, is free, though users must pay a $5.99 fee to activate the digital copy of their physical license. About 15,000 people have paid so far.

For now, users must have a copy of their physical license with them as well as the digital version, though that may change in the future. The goal is to make sure that Louisiana residents have easy access to their license at all times, according to Paige Paxton, a field administrator for the state Office of Motor Vehicles.

“Everything’s going to an app,” Paxton told Route Fifty. “At a checkpoint or a traffic stop, you’re digging for things—your license, your insurance. But most people have their cell phone within reach. It’s right there.”

It’s the first digital driver’s license program in the country, though others are in the works.

The app was mandated by a 2016 law, stemming from state legislation that aimed “to digitize our Louisiana driver’s licenses in an effort to provide an easier option for our citizens while at the same time complying with our enacted laws to provide proper identification to our public safety officials,” according to state Rep. Ted James, a Democrat from Baton Rouge, and the bill’s main sponsor.

LA Wallet was designed by the Office of Motor Vehicles and State Police in conjunction with Envoc, a Louisiana-based software development firm. The app doesn’t track users’ locations, and the license can be deactivated remotely if a smartphone gets lost or stolen.

Use of the app is not mandatory, and for now the digital license cannot be used as identification at bars or restaurants, though that could change soon. The app could be particularly beneficial for those industries, as it immediately informs officials whether a license is legitimate, valid or suspended, Paxton said.

“We hope that [the Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control] is coming on board with it, because it’ll be huge for them. Currently when you hand them a credential, they don’t know if it’s a true credential or not,” she said. “The feedback we’ve received was very positive and we’ve heard that they’re about to release their own policy on it.”

Kate Elizabeth Queram is a Staff Correspondent for Government Executive’s Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.

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