DOT Tests Digital Drivers License

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ANKENY, Iowa-- One day soon, you won’t need a plastic ID, all you’ll need is your smart phone. The Iowa Department of Transportation is getting ready to test a new digital driver's license program.

“That would be handy. I wouldn't have to run here and take part of my day to get a new license. It would be right there on my phone,” said Hettie Lahart.

She lost her license and had to pay a $10 replacement fee. The free app would give her access to all of her information and save her a trip to the DMV. Yet Lahart has concerns that it might also put her information within reach of identity thieves.

“What if my phone was lost. What else could they access with that driver’s license?” she asked.

“It is a concern with us as well as the plastic that's available that can be stolen as well,” said Paul Steier, Director of the DOT’s Bureau of Investigation and Identity Protection.

Steier says accessing a digital license would require users to enter a security pin and maybe even the use of biometrics. The information downloaded would only be available for a certain amount of time.

“It's a more secure, it's a more user-friendly, it’s more safe way and accurate way to validate identities,” he said.

The state has spent about $20,000 to develop the app. There are no plans to replace traditional plastic ID cards anytime soon.

The DOT will use its workers to test the digital license in the next six months. Depending on how that goes, the app could then become available to more Iowans.


  • Riverrunner

    Nationally, 58% of adults have smart phones and would be able to use this new license.

    However, ownership of smart phones varies according to age and income, with older and poorer adults least likely to own such a device. Location is also important. Only 43% of rural residents have smart phones.

    I am glad “there are no plans to replace traditional plastic ID cards anytime soon.” However, I would hope plastic cards are never abolished, unless the state plans to ensure that all drivers are provided with a digital device to display the replacement.

  • thomas

    I do not think it is a good idea for putting your license or other private information like that on a smartphone. identity thieves can still hack in an obtain the information, plus there is privacy issues involved and if the state goes to all electronic licenses not everyone has a smartphone let alone even a cell phone.
    I will be starting a petition to stop this before it gets completed. I have already started by talking to people and certain senators.

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