Virtual driver's licenses sold on Info Highway draw concern

| 3/15/2002

States and concerned groups across the country would like to see a warning sign along the information superhighway that might read, "Beware of the International Drivers License scam."

This month, the Automobile Club of Southern California warned consumers that web sites offering such licenses for use in the United States are a rip-off. And the AAA of Oklahoma warned of an increase in Internet sites offering the licenses.

Officials are troubled by claims that IDLs can be used in case a real license has been suspended or revoked. Some scams suggest that the bogus licenses can be used to evade driver education courses or to avoid points against a real license.

In fact, the International Driving Permit (not license) is basically a booklet with translations of the information found on a real driver's license. Some countries require IDPs, but the IDP is not a license in itself. Rather, it's designed to be used in conjunction with a valid driver's license.

For example, if you're stopped by law enforcement while driving in another country, officials will expect to see both the IDP and the real license. The IDP cannot be used in lieu of a real license. In fact, one cannot obtain an IDP without holding a valid driver's license.
-- by Dick Larsen, senior editor