States Weigh the Benefits and Challenges of Digital Driver’s Licenses

Millions of people may be able to show their smartphones rather than a plastic card to prove they’re legit to drive, vote or buy a beer in coming years.

Louisiana in July became the first state to make digital licenses available to anyone who wants them, and at least 14 other states either have developed a program, run a pilot or are studying the possibility, according to the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators.

Seventy-seven percent of American adults already own a smartphone, including 94 percent of adults under 30, and many state motor vehicle officials think residents will appreciate the convenience of having their driver’s license available in an app.

Officials also like that the licenses are connected to a central database and can be updated easily with, for example, suspensions or revocations.

And unlike plastic cards that can easily be counterfeited or tampered with, mobile licenses are less susceptible to fraud, they say.