Q&A – About Florida’s Digital Driver’s License

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Q&A – About Florida’s Digital Driver’s License

Each day I feature a listener question sent by one of these methods. 

Email: brianmudd@iheartmedia.com

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Today’s entry: @brianmuddradio I’m skeptical of Florida’s digital driver's license. The timing seems like conditioning for digital vaccine passports. Also what if phone dies or is lost? Any other states doing this?

Bottom Line: Last week the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles announced a digital version of driver’s licenses will be available in November. Called the Florida Smart ID, the state has been testing an app in beta in recent months and apparently, it’s about ready for showtime. In addition to the state’s Smart ID app which will be available for free in app stores (Apple and Android), the state is currently working with Apple for adaptation within Apple’s Wallet app – which would mean iPhone and Apple Watch users wouldn’t need a separate app. As for how it works...

The Florida Smart ID digital driver's license will work with a companion app, called the Florida Smart ID Verifier app which will act as a reader. The companion app, which will be used by businesses or law enforcement, will scan a QR code provided by one’s digital driver’s license to verify your identify. The state also wants you to know that no tracking or personal information, other than your ID, will be collected or stored within the app. Quoting the FLHSMVThe Florida Smart ID will not use geolocation tagging. There’s no tracking of your device or Florida Smart ID usage, your information is not accessible without your consent, your smart device remains in your hands during verification, and you control when to share it and what data to share. Another benefit of digitalization is that any information which needs to be updated, like a change of address, will happen automatically within the app. Now to dive into your questions and concerns...

I can safely say that Florida’s move towards enabling a digital driver’s license has nothing to do with vaccine passports or the pandemic. Digitalization, which will soon go live, is part of a process the state began to work on in 2014. The stated purpose for the development of these digital licenses is convenience and safety as the digital licenses won’t be able to be faked. Regarding your phone dying or being lost... Yeah that’s a real consideration but then then again you could always lose your driver’s license as well, but it also brings up another important point. The digital driver’s license isn’t a replacement for your physical driver’s license. At least at the time of the rollout. 

Under Florida law, you need your physical driver’s license to be able to drive in Florida. It would require the state legislature to change the law to allow it to be optional. I’m not currently aware of any pending legislation to that effect having been proposed. So, the digital license will augment your physical license at the onset as opposed to replacing it. As for whether any other states are involved in digitalizing driver’s licenses. Yes, there are several. 

Colorado was the first state to unveil a digital license in 2019 and starting in 2020 in was in full use statewide. Arizona, Delaware and Oklahoma are all using a 3rd party security company IDEMIA for a digital license. Others that are about to launch include Iowa, Louisiana and Utah. In addition to Florida, other states currently working with Apple to hub a digital license in the Apple Wallet include Arizona, Connecticut, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Oklahoma and Utah. That you haven’t heard of issues associated with digital licenses given the use by four states already and for nearly two years in the case of Colorado, generally speaks to the success of initiatives.

Digital licenses will be optional when they’re rolled out next month in Florida, so if you remain skeptical that’s your prerogative. I’m personally looking forward to the convenience of the digital version, especially in conjunction with the Apple Wallet, which I frequently use. There are times when I’m biking or kayaking or swimming that I have my watch on but nothing else with me and prefer not to carry a wallet. The digital license gets us one step closer to not needing anything else when we’re out and about. 

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