Ted James Wants To Create Electronic Driver’s Licenses. Is It A Good Idea?

Louisiana, like many states, allows for electronic proof of insurance. The state even has an electronic voter registration card through the Geaux Vote smartphone app. Now the Legislature is considering creating an electronic driver’s license.

From WBRZ:

A bill to create an electronic Louisiana driver’s license passed the House Transportation Committee Monday.

If it becomes law, the Office of Motor Vehicles would create a smartphone app that a driver could use to present a valid electronic driver’s license to law enforcement or to other state and local government agencies.

As the bill stands now, a driver could choose to obtain only the electronic license and not the physical license. The renewal cost of the electronic license would be $3-$5, much lower than the renewal cost of a physical license, according to the bill’s sponsor Rep. Ted James (D-Baton Rouge) . Also the creation and implementation of the app would be at no cost to the state.

The bill does not force private vendors or other entities to recognize the electronic license as an acceptable form of identification. So if a person went to a store to buy alcohol or tobacco, it’s up to business if it would accept the electronic license.

The same is true for airports which may not accept the electronic version and require a physical license instead. Also, law enforcement in other states may not accept the electronic version. For these reasons, James encourages people to get both the physical and the electronic licenses. 

The electronic license would be Real ID compliant. 

A photo of a physical license on a driver’s phone would not be acceptable. 

The state would be the first one to create an electronic driver’s license on a statewide scale. The concept is a good idea, but the bill and Ted James’s “advice” have a few problems.

Airports accept e-tickets but they won’t accept e-driver’s licenses? That logic just doesn’t make sense. Most states will eventually adopt e-driver’s licenses as well.

Finally, why should there be a separate fee for an e-driver’s license? How about just including it with a physical driver’s license? Most insurance companies don’t charge a separate fee for e-proof of insurance. 

Ted James has the right concept, but the implementation needs some work. It is just little more than a money grab by the state.

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