March 6, 2015

Digital Driver's Licenses

Delaware is considering offering digital driver’s licenses, according to a recent article in The News Journal on  This optional digital license would be accessible through a secure smartphone application and would not replace state-issued plastic licenses.

The use of digital driver’s licenses would directly impact federal and state law enforcement in situations such as traffic stops and security checkpoints. The article raises various issues regarding the use of this technology, such as:
  1. What if a driver’s cellphone lost power during a traffic stop?
  2. What about the limiting effect of cellphone service availability?
  3. How does an officer seize a digital license after a drunken driving arrest?
  4. How would the technology address privacy and security concerns?
  5. Will states with only plastic licenses have the technology to read another state’s digital license?
  6. How would the technology be accommodated at security checkpoints, such as courthouse entrances, where people generally cannot enter carrying cellphones?
At the time the article was written, the state Senate had passed a resolution which requires the director of the Delaware Motor Vehicle Division to study and consider the use of digital driver’s licenses.  The House has since approved this resolution.

According to a CNN Money article, the Iowa Department of Transportation has been testing an app for digital driver’s licenses for the past year and will deploy such licenses to its employees as a test group. The state has not set a date for when the digital licenses will be available to the public.