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License suspended? ADOT now offers temporary IDs online

The Arizona Department of Transportation is offering temporary ID cards online, saving those with suspended licenses from having to visit an office in person. 

"To have a photo ID is huge," say Doug Nick, a spokesman for ADOT. Which is why the state agency has started offering temporary ID services online, streamlining the process. Photo IDs are necessary for everything from accessing bank accounts to voting, and drivers licenses are by far the most common form of ID in Arizona, Nick said. So when someone's license is suspended, they can find themselves suddenly cut off from essential services. As a remedy, ADOT offers replacement state ID cards that are valid for six months at a time.

In order to qualify for the ID, the applicant's drivers license must be suspended, with that license's expiration date past the six month period of the temporary ID, and they must have a license photo from the past 12 years on file with the Arizona Department of Motor Vehicles. If they meet these requirements, for $12 they can receive a paper receipt with their photo, and a plastic version 10-12 business days later. Until Thursday this service was only available in person, a considerable hurdle for someone whose driving privilege has been revoked.

While Arizona does offer permanent non-license photo ID cards, for non-drivers, a person cannot obtain both one of those IDs and a driver's license, Nick said. That means if someone intends on getting their license back soon, they should opt for a temporary ID card.

Applications for temporary state IDs can be made at ServiceArizona.com.

Kat Elyse, an Arizona resident whose license was suspended from 2013-2017, had to take the bus to the MVD in order to get her temporary ID card – and again every six months when it expired.

"This was about an hour and a half round trip," she said, "so that was a hassle." For the first two weeks, she'd be stuck with the paper receipt in lieu of a card. "Of course, you can't use the paper ID for anything that requires identification, so there wasn't any real use for it," Elyse said.

It is up to the agency that is presented with a temporary ID to decide whether they'll accept it or not, according to Christopher Hale, Tucson City Court administrator. "Our court does not accept temporary IDs," he said. Since they include a photo, the ID's should be valid for voting according to state election law, yet the Secretary of State's Office suggests bringing a secondary document just in case.

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Driving under the influence, reckless driving, and aggressive driving all result in the immediate suspension of driving privileges. But simply failing to pay tickets, such as for parking violations, can also result in a suspension.

ADOT's spokesman said the agency doesn't track how many licenses are suspended annually, nor how many temporary ID cards are issued.

The city of Tucson alone transmits nearly 20,000 license suspensions to ADOT each year, Hale said.

No matter the numbers, offering the service online is predicted to increase efficiency and convenience while decreasing wait times at physical MVD locations.

"We're doing a lot more online," said ADOT's Nick. "This is a business decision for us. The online world is where so many do business."

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