Are DDLs (Digital Driver’s Licenses) The Future? What You Need To Know

Wallets are becoming a thing of the past. DDLs (Digital Driver’s Licenses) are the future, at least for some states. Is your home state one of them? Find out here!

More and more, people are replacing their wallet with their smartphone. You can link your credit and debit cards to Apple, Android or Samsung Pay, use Google Wallet, Isis, Paypal, Venmo and other online payment systems. You can even deposit checks using mobile banking apps. Still, you might need to carry a few things in your wallet. But maybe not for long. The future is in the DDL (Digital Driver’s License), where you can simply have an app as your ID.

DDLs are the next big thing at the DMV, that is, at least for Iowa, Colorado, Idaho, Maryland, Wyoming, and even Washington, D.C. Like some insurance companies have done recently, people can now opt for a digital version of their driver’s license. This means that instead of requiring a paper or plastic license, an encrypted, app-based license can be used. One would simply need to pull out their smartphone and show the DDL app, which could be used as proof of identity.

The technology is set to be accepted as proof of identity with law enforcement and more. This includes traffic stops and citations, airport security proof of identity, and even age verification at venues and businesses with age restriction access (bars, liquor stores, etc.).

According to Gemalto, the company awarded the government contract of developing the DDL, multiple states have come a long way. In 2014, Iowa became the first state to decide to test a DDL. Since then, many other states have fueled the fire of innovation. In Utah, “Bill 227 effective in May 2016 requires the Driver License Division and Department of Technology Services to study and report findings and recommendations regarding electronic driver licenses” (Gemalto).

Who Can Get a DDL?

The states mentioned previously are all set for a pilot program, but plenty of others are waiting on the sidelines for their chance. Like Utah, other states including Louisiana, Arizona, and Tennessee have begun to research creating a DDL. Certain states have tried to pass legislation to begin research and development, but it hasn’t passed yet.

In 2014, the U.S. Supreme court Case Riley v. California made it illegal to search digital information on a mobile phone without a warrant during an arrest.  The introduction means that one could show their DDL to police officers, but that would not allow them to search the phone at all.

For states that are against adopting DDLs, there are alternatives. In 2016, the Real ID act was passed, requiring states to comply with certain regulation on state-issued IDs, including driver’s licenses. The point of the law is to reduce the amount of counterfeiting. The secret is the polycarbonate, which is impossible to delaminate, which means that they fuse security elements into the card.

The driver’s license is the most common form of identification in the United States. It’s important that information is not lost or stolen in the process of transitioning to electronic data. To be fair, The government does have electronic records of your license number, social security number, name, and address, etc. Perhaps the bigger issue is protecting those records, rather than hacking an individual’s ID app. However, there are high hopes for Gemalto and its security technology.