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DRIVETIME MAHATMA: Licenses in state taking digital turn

by Frank Fellone | February 2, 2019 at 4:30 a.m.

This newspaper's venerable and mustachioed wire editor, Glen Chase, periodically sends along driving news from around the country.

Turns out Louisiana now makes a digital driver's license available to anyone who wants one and has a smartphone.

This happened in July, giving Louisiana the distinction of being the first state to do so.

Others are right behind. The American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators reports that at least 14 other states have developed a similar program, are running a pilot program or are studying the matter.

This makes sense. The Pew Research Center reports that 77 percent of Americans now own smartphones, up from 35 percent in 2011. This surely means that any American who wants to own a smartphone has one.

We also know, from observation, that many, many drivers have smartphones. We see them talking and texting all the time. The latter is contrary to state law, as everyone knows, so stop doing it.

By the way, who knew there was an American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators? Is this a great country, or what?

Naturally, we wondered about Arkansas. Yeah, Louisiana has a better football team than Arkansas, but our state is surely as digitally uptown as those folks. So we asked some questions of the Department of Finance and Administration, via spokesman Scott Hardin.

Has DF&A considered, studied or otherwise thought deeply about digital driver's licenses?

DF&A's leadership team has studied this possibility for several years, including a review of the available technology, Hardin said. In 2017, the General Assembly passed Act 557, authorizing DF&A to offer a digital driver's license. The digital license will be an additional option for Arkansans.

Is the topic even on the table, or approaching the table?

DF&A anticipates that a digital license will be available in the last quarter of this year, Hardin said.

If someone in DF&A has done a study or report on digital licenses, may The Mahatma respectfully request a copy under the Freedom of Information Act? Invoking the FOIA makes us feel like a real journalist, instead of a guy writing this column in his sweatpants.

Dude, Hardin said, here is a link to an impact statement produced by DF&A and a link to Act 557.

DF&A concluded that the impact would be modest. The act allows folks who have Arkansas driver's licenses to display digital driver's licenses on their mobile devices or personal computers. The fee would be $10, charged in addition to the cost of a driver's license.

The digital license would not replace the traditional card and would be effective for the duration of the traditional license.

We also read Act 557 of 2017. Written by lawyers, it's incomprehensible.

In any event, the last quarter of 2019 is right around the corner.

Vanity plate seen on Interstate 30 near Benton: DOGBOWL. Who knows what this is about?

Fjfellone@gmail.com

Metro on 02/02/2019

Print Headline: DRIVETIME MAHATMA: Licenses in state taking digital turn

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