Digital Driver's Licenses Coming to Iowa

Aug 26, 2015

Iowa is the first state to test out mobile driver’s licenses. The Iowa Department of Transportation has rolled out a pilot program that allows users to pull up the ID on their smartphones.

Up to 100 Iowa DOT employees are testing out the new software, produced by MorphoTrust USA. The biometrics and identity technology company is headquartered in Billerica, MA. 

At the moment, the digital licenses are only compatible with newer iPhones. Eventually the application will be formatted for other smartphones.

The DOT says  the digital licenses look a lot like the plastic cards, but have additional features. 

"The application itself is in communication with DOT databases," says spokeswoman Andrea Henry. "If you have a change to your driving record, for example...your address, or you have a medical condition, or you have maybe a driving status that changes, it will automatically update your application."

For those who are uncomfortable handing over their smartphone to a police officer or liquor store clerk, Henry says that shouldn’t be an issue. 

"We really don't' anticipate the need to ever actually had over your phone," she says. "There is scanning technologies that give the ability for law enforcement to scan the license, retails to scan the license without it ever leaving the hands of the customer." 

Henry says the testing phase will last about 90 days. She estimates the public rollout will happen in another 12-18 months. 

The pilot program is costing the DOT less than $50,000. The price tag for the mobile IDs going statewide is unknown.