Louisiana recently became one of the first states to lawfully authorize a digital driver’s license as a legitimate form of identification.
In 2018, the Louisiana Office of Technology Services worked alongside the Office of Motor Vehicles and other entities to implement the LA Wallet initiative, culminating in the development of a digital driver's license application that is supported by both Apple iOS and Android.
As of Dec. 22, 2020, LA Wallet has been considered a legal equivalent to a physical license or identification, accepted by the Louisiana State Police as proof of licensure and by the Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control as real-time age verification required for vendor purchases and deliveries. Moreover, LA Wallet is now accepted as a valid form of identification in all Gulf States.
A service made available through the Dept. of Children and Family Services, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – or SNAP – provides monthly benefits that help eligible low-income households buy the food they need for good health. In the event of a state-declared disaster, residents may apply for life-sustaining Disaster SNAP benefits, a process made possible by numerous other entities, including OTS.
In 2020, due to COVID-19, all DSNAP phone applications were directed through a large call center with agency staff. Almost overnight, data-sharing agreements were put into place to allow for integration with LA Wallet to verify identification. The application process is also connected to LITE, which is used to determine eligibility. Qualifying recipients received paid-benefit cards in a timely manner.
In 2021, OTS completed the virtualization of DSNAP, enabling a minimal-to-no-touch process that utilizes a range of innovative technologies and that is touted as the first of its kind. This technology proved critical following the impact of Hurricane Ida, a Category 4 storm that made landfall in Southwest Louisiana on August 29, 2021. Ultimately, the state processed more than 120,000 applications due to Ida and provided more than $74 million in assistance.
In January 2021, the Louisiana Dept. of Health upgraded to the latest version of MyIRMobile, which allows Louisiana residents to review their immunization history, receive reminders for future immunizations, and print official records. In May 2021, the LA Wallet application was expanded to tie-in Louisiana Department of Health SMART Health Cards – including COVID-19 vaccine records – as an opt-in service for users. In the interest of further protecting data privacy, LA Wallet's COVID-19 feature incorporates the privacy principles developed by the Vaccination Credential Initiative and the Common Trust Network.
Louisiana earned the designation of being the first state to provide its residents with digital access to their vaccination records in accordance with the SMART Health Card Framework, an open, interoperable and verifiable standard established for sharing and verifying personal health information. An initiative spearheaded by Gov. John Bel Edwards, this enhancement was designed to connect people with their own personal health information in a simple, secure way. Residents may opt in to use the feature in order to obtain digital copies of their vaccination records at no cost. As of May 2022, almost 826,000 Louisiana residents have opted to link their vaccine records on LA Wallet.
Hunting and Fishing Licenses
In October 2021, the LA Wallet application also was expanded to tie-in Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries hunting and fishing licenses for any user who may choose to link these records to the application. As of May 2022, almost 190,000 residents have utilized LA Wallet to purchase and access their hunting and fishing licenses.
The list of additional features offered through LA Wallet continues to grow, including an optional organ donor registry status via the Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency as well as an optional autism indicator available the OMV with appropriate medical documentation. The autism indicator is optional and can be removed from a credential at any time, as requested by the applicant. The “Autism” designation can be displayed on any class driver’s license, but may not be placed on Class I (Identification Card) or Class H (Handicap Identification Card) credentials.
Louisiana invested once in LA Wallet’s underlying technology and has reused it many times to provide additional services to its residents. As of May 2022, 1.4 million residents have activated LA Wallet on their smartphones, and that number continues to grow on a daily basis.