D.C. Council approves digital driver's licenses, but we don't know when we'll get them
Cellphones have the ability to store virtual credit cards, concert tickets, and soon, in D.C., your driver's license. The D.C. Council unanimously passed a law Tuesday that would allow for digital versions of driver's licenses and ID cards. Mayor Muriel Bowser, who introduced the bill, is expected to sign it into law.
The electronic version would be an additional option and would be accepted by police, businesses, and the TSA just like the plastic versions.
D.C. DMV Director Gabriel Robinson said during a public hearing in April that the digital versions would "retain the key visual aspects of a physical driver's license identification card, displaying the driver's photo, personal information including name, address, and date of birth.
"Digital identification cards are increasingly recognized as a safe and secure technology for individuals to complete a variety of day-to-day transactions while protecting their private information," Robinson said.
The DMV says they've been working to develop a digital ID for years and will be able to move forward soon, though officials couldn't provide a timeline. The DMV already offers digital proof of vehicle registration in their app and nearly all insurance providers have digital versions of insurance cards, too.
Robinson said it would take some education campaigns, which they plan to work on.
"We will bring in grocery stores, banking institutions, all the places where you would normally, naturally show your identification, there will be a campaign where we are talking with those entities to ensure they understand that it is a legal credential, first of all, and here's how it works and how it could benefit you and your patrons," Robinson said. "So that is all in the works."
Maryland may be the first to launch a digital license in the region. They're working with Apple to launch their version next year, which was delayed from a launch this year. It's unclear if the D.C. DMV would create its own app, use Apple, or go another route.
At least 11 states have passed legislation allowing digital IDs and eight other states have legislation in the works, Robinson said in April. Many digital licenses have an option for QR code scanning or tapping a phone to a receptacle to give only the relevant information needed, like just a photo and a date of birth to a bar bouncer instead of all your information including your address.
The digital versions of licenses can also be updated in real-time instead of waiting for a new license in the mail.
Robinson said he sits on an association of DMV administrators, which is making sure states have a set of cross-jurisdictional standards so digital licenses would be accepted across state lines and not just in the home jurisdiction.
This story is from DCist.com, the local news website of WAMU.
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