DC could soon have digital driver’s licenses

When a bartender asks for your driver’s license in the future, you may be able to show your smartphone if you live in D.C.

A new bill could be passed by the D.C. Council later this month that would give residents the opportunity to get a digital driver’s license or identification card.

The bill, introduced by D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson on behalf of Mayor Muriel Bowser, would allow the license to be stored on an app similar to the digital registration that car owners can now use.

“The DMV is ready to implement the legislation immediately and already has an app designed to allow presentation of these credentials in an electronic format,” said council member Mary Cheh, referring to the D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles, during a transportation committee meeting.

“The DMV director testified at the hearing in April [that] the system protects against providing expired electronic credentials as the app will be in real time communication with the DMV database,” Cheh added. “Therefore, if one’s license is expired, the individual will automatically lose the ability to present it on their device.”

Physical licenses and identification cards would still be available to all D.C. residents. The digital credential would be an additional option.

The bill also addresses privacy concerns. If the law is passed, police would not be allowed to look through your phone if you show it to them for identification.

The council will likely hold a final vote later this month during a Dec. 7 legislative meeting.

If passed, D.C. would join more than 20 states that have authorized electronic IDs. Earlier this year, Maryland announced it would be one of the first states to partner with Apple to offer driver’s licenses through Apple Wallet.

“Maryland is proud to be a leader once again in safe innovation with the implementation of mobile driver’s licenses,” Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said in a statement. “As we look to the future, we are committed to enhancing convenience and accessibility while maintaining the highest safety and security standards for our state and citizens.”

The Transportation Security Administration also seems to be on board with the idea. It announced that it would pilot a program allowing digital IDs in select security lanes throughout national airports.

Luke Lukert

Since joining WTOP Luke Lukert has held just about every job in the newsroom from producer to web writer and now he works as a full-time reporter. He is an avid fan of UGA football. Go Dawgs!

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