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Say you’re driving down some back roads and you pass a sign that says the speed limit is 50 mph. You look down at your speedometer and see you are currently going 65mph. You start to slow down a bit but with a roar of a police siren you realize unfortunately it’s too late. The officer slowly moseys their way up to your driver’s window and asks you “can I see your registration and phone please?”
Wait. What? Did he just ask for your phone?
Yes. Yes he did and according to USA Today, it may not be much longer before digital drivers’ licenses become a reality.
The vendor of driver licenses for Iowa and 40 other states, MorphoTrust USA, began working on a concept for a mobile app that carries a digital version of driver's licenses two years ago.
The app would display a person’s birthdate, name, address, signature and a photo, information usually found on a state driver's license.
Officials have said the Delaware DMV would not eliminate hard plastic licenses. Instead, customers would have the option of having a digital version along with their hard copy.
While it may sound cool, there are some that have raised some concern for privacy and data security such as what information the apps will collect or exchange during transmission. Another concern that has been raised regards the service as the technology is limited based on the availability of cellphone service.
Jeffrey Horvath, a Police Chief in Lewes, Delaware, questioned how the technology would be accommodated at various locations such as Courthouses and checkpoints.
“What if the driver's phone has lost power? How does an officer seize the digital license after a drunken driving arrest, without taking the phone,” Hovarth said.
This kind of situation prompted Horvath to wonder how citizens would feel about officers taking their smartphones back to their patrol car in order to verify it their information.
To solve any issues with that, Andrea Henry, director of strategic communications for the Iowa Department of Transportation said Iowa has visualized a “corresponding mobile app for law enforcement officials' phones to would read digital driver's licenses, so the phone never leaves your hand."
Hovarth also questioned how the application would work when one crosses state lines.
"If they legalize it in Iowa and Delaware and I travel to California, will the officer accept my digital license there? Would he have the equipment to scan, read it and verify it?"
While this change may be a year or two away from happening, one can’t help but wonder how well this will work out. For the time being though, it seems like it may need to be put on the back-burner for a bit longer so they can sort out some issues that could play a big part any potential success or failure for this evolution in law enforcement and technology.
Do you like the idea of digital driver’s licenses? What are your thoughts on this potential option for drivers?
The idea is great! But the change must be centralized and must be effective all over the country! And also what about the universal licenses that allow you to drive in foreign countries. How is the Government planning to cope with that?
The idea is good itself but then again we face the problem of data security. None of the data repositories in the web can guarantee 100% security so digital documents may be hacked. The most reliable are trusted virtual data rooms like Ideals but their layered security system will not allow to check the license as quickly as it needed.