Maryland begins digital driver’s license program
Maryland is testing the waters on making state driver’s licenses digital.
Last week, the Maryland Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administration launched a two-year program that will test new technology and collect data with the goal to make digital driver’s licenses a reality in the future.
The pilot program follows the state’s upgrade of its driver’s licenses and identification cards a year ago. MDOT said the state issued more than 1.6 million new cards with added security features to new and renewing residents. In addition, more than 33,000 veterans have received cards that has “VETERAN” printed on the front of the card, instead of on the back.
“The priority [of the pilot program] is certainly security,” said Kat Moran, a MDOT media relations specialist.
The digital version of a driver’s license would be inside a mobile application that looks like a banking app, she said. When a user makes a purchase from a vendor, he or she could scan a QR code displayed by the vendor and applicable information will be sent to the vendor.
When someone needs to show his or her driver’s license to verify a credit card, that protects the user’s private information as the vendor will not be able to see information non-relevant to the purchase, such as addresses and physical descriptions, Moran said.
If someone is pulled over by a law enforcement officer, the police officer will have a scan reader to scan the driver’s mobile app and relevant information will be sent to the officer’s vehicle, she said.
With physical copies, if someone loses a wallet, the information on the driver’s license could be jeopardized, Moran said. With the digital version, however, a phone can be locked to protect someone’s private information from being stolen.
The digital version would also
make it more efficient for users to update their information and more convenient for them to carry around.
“It’s not a replacement; it’s an in-addition-to,” Moran said. And it’s too early to say where the pilot program will lead to, “but we are dreaming big.”
The pilot program is tested among MDOT employees and family members in the Baltimore and Washington, D.C., area. The department is working with Gemalto, a Maryland company that manufactures Maryland driver’s licenses.