State leads nation with digital licenses
Louisiana is first for a change, and it isn’t because of some survey. The state in July became the first in the nation to make digital driver’s licenses available to anyone who wants one.
The Associated Press reported that at least 14 other states either have developed a similar program, run a pilot or are studying the possibility of issuing similar licenses. The AP said 77 percent of American adults own a smartphone, including 94 percent of adults under 30.
The Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles (LOMV), Louisiana State Police and the Department of Public Safety jointly designed the program. Some 35,000 of the state’s four million drivers have signed up to have their licenses available on the LA Wallet app.
Residents can download the Apple or Google app for free, but must pay a $5.99 activation fee that covers them until their driver’s license expires. Drivers have to use a PIN number, fingerprint or both to access their license, which is linked to the OMV data system. For now, the app can only be used for stops by State Police and for voting, but officials hope to expand its uses in the future.
Digital licenses are a supplement and don’t replace plastic licenses that still have to be carried for the foreseeable future. State Police are happy with the hands-off procedure, which means they can check the license without having to take the phone from the driver.
A spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in New York said there are significant risks with the digital licenses if they are offered without explaining those risks.
The Electronic Privacy Information Center is concerned about the apps being used to monitor a person.
State officials said to address privacy concerns the law says that displaying a digital license doesn’t serve as consent or authorization for police or anyone else to search or view any other data or app on the mobile device.
Paige Paxton, a field administrator for the state OMV, said, "We like to move with the times. We saw the potential. Our plan is to eventually make it so your registration, insurance or any credential would be on LA Wallet."
We congratulate the many state officials involved in this effort to make life simpler for the citizens they serve.