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Monday, May 18, 2020

Drive Smart

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ICYMI: Louisiana first in the nation to offer digital ID

Have you ever gone to run an errand and realized you forgot your wallet? A quick jolt of anxiety might hit you as you wonder, “What if I am pulled over without my driver’s license?” For Louisiana drivers, there’s an app for that.

That’s right. Anyone with a current Louisiana license can download the LA Wallet app to have a digital driver’s license on their smartphone.

Launched in late June 2018, LA Wallet became the first fully functioning digital driver’s license available in the U.S. The digital driver’s license through LA Wallet is accepted by Louisiana law enforcement. The Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control (ATC) approved it as the only legally accepted digital driver’s license in Louisiana.

“We see [LA Wallet] on occasion,” said Sgt. Patrick McConnell in the Radar Unit and Traffic Bureau of the Shreveport Police Department. “Louisiana state law recognizes it as a form of ID on traffic stops, and we can verify the individual using the app. We have advised our command staff of the app being used in lieu of using a physical driver’s license.”

McConnell noted not to solely depend on the app itself: “What if your cell phone runs out of battery? What if it’s stolen? You can never tell.”

Hubert Williams Jr. of Shreveport downloaded LA Wallet shortly after it launched.

“I downloaded it because I like new technology,” said Williams. “I was surprised that Louisiana was the first to have it available.”

Williams added that he likes that LA Wallet alerts you when your license is up for renewal.

When it comes to renewing a Louisiana license, users have the option to renew their physical license or ID through LA Wallet. The app will update the credentials within 24 hours, and a physical credential will be delivered via mail.

LA Wallet is available for Apple iOS and Android devices. In response to COVID-19, Gov. John Bel Edwards on March 18 announced the app will be free temporarily. Usually, LA Wallet costs $5.99.

A digital Louisiana driver’s license will be valid for the life of a physical license, or up to six years.

If you frequently travel across the ArkLaTex, do note the app’s limitations, which are found in the fine print of its terms of use: “For requests for identification not associated with traffic stops or checkpoints in Louisiana, you may be required to produce a physical driver’s license to a law enforcement officer, a representative of the state or federal department or agency, or a private entity when so requested and be subject to all applicable laws and consequences for failure to produce such license.”

In other words, the app only applies to Louisiana drivers driving within Louisiana. Also note, the app has not received approval by the Transportation and Security Administration (TSA) for REAL ID acceptance.

To learn more about the app and its use, visit LAWallet.com.

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