Iowa DOT workers begin testing digital driver’s license app

Updated Sep 4, 2015

Upwards of 100 workers from the Iowa Department of Transportation have become among the first in the nation to test out digital driver’s licenses.

KCRG reported the workers will get a trial of the new app-based digital license on their state-issued smartphones over 90 days to see if they might be a viable replacement to the old plastic standard.

“Part of the responsibility of the department is to educate the public … and get them used to the idea before it’s widely accepted,” IDOT spokeswoman Andrea Henry said.

The digital license is housed inside of an app called mDL and features a holographic-like image that constantly moves as a security feature to prevent copying a license. The back of a driver’s license is also viewable on the smartphone. Plus, the digital license features special security features that only law enforcement officials can access.

MorphoTrust USA, who developed the digital driver’s licenses, decided to do its first test run of the licenses in Iowa because the state showed an early interest in the technology.  The company is also showing off a new “reader app” that would allow another person, such as a police officer, to check the information on someone’s digital license without action having to even hold the driver’s phone.

“Like any new technology, there will be a learning curve. And I think it will take a lot of advance socialization to different segments of society to use it,” MorphoTrust vice president Jenny Openshaw said.

IDOT thinks the digital license could end up saving the state some money if it’s used by enough people, and they might can get a copy in their phone within the next 18 months. But IDOT said the digital license would always just be an alternative option and not manditory.