Idaho Electronic Liens & Titles (ELT)

The History of ELT in Idaho

The Idaho Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) implemented the Electronic Lien and Title Program (ELT) in 1996. What follows is an excerpt from Idaho's Motor Vehicle History.


Although the state of Idaho had been licensing vehicles since 1913, vehicle titles weren't required until the 1927 Idaho Legislature passed the Uniform Motor Vehicle Anti-theft Act with the intention of halting the licensing of stolen vehicles. The Motor Vehicle Bureau (which was already established with Registrations and Dealer Services under the Department of Law Enforcement) was given the responsibility of implementing the title requirements of the new law.

At that time, the Department of Law Enforcement operated in conjunction with the Secretary of State's Office, since Fred Lukens was both the Secretary of State and the Commissioner of Law Enforcement. The Motor Vehicle Bureau remained with Law Enforcement until 1982 when the bureau was reorganized under the Transportation Department.

It's interesting to note that automobile theft has always been a problem, but in his 1930 biannual report, Mr. Lukens stated that the new title requirements met with universal approval on the part of the public and that the number of thefts had undoubtedly decreased in Idaho because of this new law's existence. Because stolen vehicles and ownership discrepancies still exist today, the nine Motor Vehicle Investigators assist the public with these problems.

The Uniform Motor Vehicle Anti-theft Act became effective on January 1, 1928. During that first year the Motor Vehicle Bureau issued over 107,000 titles for cars, trucks, motorcycles, and trailers. Each title was hand-typed on an 8" x 10" form for a fee of 50¢. The title was later reduced to a 3" x 4" size that was used until 1988 when it was enlarged to accommodate the odometer requirements of the Federal Anti-Theft Act of 1986.

The color of the titles has also varied through the years. The original large titles were white with a gold background and gold border. The smaller titles were originally printed in various shades of green, and then gold. When the title was enlarged in 1988, the color was changed to the blue that is in use today.

The number of Idaho titles has fluctuated from year to year, but has steadily increased from the original 107,000 issued in 1928 to the 668,571 titles issued in 2005. Over the years this growth has been accompanied by new problems that have required new laws and procedures to manage vehicles that have been wrecked, salvaged, or abandoned.

Enhancements to the titling program have also been made to provide additional services to Idaho title customers. In 1996, Idaho became the third state in the nation to offer an electronic lien and title (ELT) program for financial institutions that preferred “paperless” titles. In 1997, a release of liability program was enacted to protect a vehicle seller from liability for injury or damage to persons or property, infractions, and storage, repair, towing or service fees associated with a vehicle that were incurred after delivery to the buyer. In 2000, certain vessels became titled. In 2001, transitional ownership documents were created to provide dealers and financial institutions a means to perfect liens in cases where a lien was unable to be recorded within the required timeframe because the title certificate was lost or being held by a previous lienholder. As needs present themselves, the department will continue to see that new laws and programs are enacted to benefit the citizens of Idaho.

As of July 2013, in addition to Idaho, 17 other states (18 total) have implemented electronic lien and title programs. They are Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin. Each state's program is unique depending on state laws and requirements, but all ELT programs significantly improved the lien and title process. Now bankers, credit unions, dealers, and other financial institutions no longer need to store and file paper titles. Lenders can electronically secure and release liens on titles using a web application developed by Decision Dynamics, Inc. called Premier eTitleLien™.

Premier eTitleLien™ was originally developed as a result of a partnership with the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles and the South Carolina Banker's Association to serve the various needs of lenders. This lender-designed program allows lenders to maintain control of their vehicle collateral while incorporating the benefits of electronic processing and communication.

Premier eTitleLien® Decision Dynamics, Inc.