Digital drivers licenses on smartphones

Would you use a digital license?

SARASOTA -- Smartphone apps have us more dependent on our phones; the latest one is for digital drivers licenses, but is the price for privacy worth the convenience?

Renewing your driver’s license—we’ve all been through the wait and the dreaded photo and then you can never forget it if you’re driving.

“Sometimes you forget it---so it's not that convenient,” says Richard Trott who renewed his license today on his birthday.

But now convenience is a click away on your cell phone. An app for Digital Drivers licenses is being tested in Denver, Idaho, and Maryland and Iowa is already using it.

While it may be more convenient to carry your license on your phone instead of the old fashion way, how safe is it?

We asked George Rusimobic who renewed his license today if he’d be comfortable with a digital version. He says, “No. There’s a security issue.”

Lynda Fischer says, “My concern is the accessibility of my information by identity thieves. They seem to be one step ahead of the safety programs.”

You would need a pin or fingerprint for verification to use it. If your phone is lost or stolen you can remotely deactivate the app …but there is that gap of time that raises concerns.

When a police officer pulls you over and you hand over your digital driver’s license, what other rights are you handing over?”

Trott says, “If they do their job right they won’t go through your photos and everything else that’s personal.”

 A search warrant is needed in Florida for an officer to search your phone.

“Will you be required to forfeit a certain amount of consent and if so, how much?” asks Andrea Mogensen, a constitutional attorney in Sarasota.

 Mogensen says technology like DDLs have created a lot of privacy and constitutional rights issues.

Mogensen says, “If you are using your cell phone as a form of identification and an email prompt comes up, text prompts, phone calls come in  you could be giving data to a law enforcement officer without intending to and you're not required to do that’. That's your 5th amendment right to avoid. Those are issues that need to be raised and addressed before people start using this app unless they are willing to forfeit a lot of privacy.”

Mogensen says there’s also a concern over how much information one has to give the APP to apply for the DDL. “When you voluntarily give information to the government, you might be giving up some constitutional rights.”

In the end, people we spoke with say given the choice, most would stick with the traditional driver’s license.

Trott says, “I’d still stick with the plastic. I like the old school thing, but that’s a cool idea.”

The pilot program does allow you to continue using the "hard version" of your drivers license and in some cases -- like with buying liquor -- it's required.


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