2 States Pursuing Digital Driver's License

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January 28, 2015

The idea of a digital driver's license is gaining traction, with two state governments now looking into allowing smartphone options.

Late in 2014, Iowa announced its intention to embark on a pilot program, with rollout of a smartphone app planned for 2016.

Now onboard is Delaware, with the state legislature signing off on a similar program.

Neither state would eliminate hard plastic licenses. Rather, drivers would have the option to have both the traditional license and a digital one.

As planned by the driver's license vendor, which has been working on an app since 2013, the digital license would display a driver's name, address, birthdate, signature, and photo but also require recognition in the form of facial, fingerprint, or voice, along with a personal identification code.

Delaware already allows drivers to show digital proof of insurance.

One of the features being ironed out in the Iowa prototype is a locking feature, so that drivers could conceivably hand over their smartphones to traffic officers without also handing over access to anything else on the phone.

Another concern raised by some opponents of the digital license is its utility when a smartphone is out of cellular range. The answer, Delaware and Iowa advocates say, is to continue to offer licenses in both formats.

One high-tech feature of the Iowa prototype offers the driver's photo to appear to rotate back and forth, not unlike the "moving images" that take the place of photographs and paintings in the Harry Potter series.

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