Q&A – Details Regarding Florida’s Digital Driver’s License

Utah Tests Mobile Drivers License Pilot Program

Photo: Getty Images

Today’s entry: I’m skeptical of Florida’s digital driver's license. The timing seems like conditioning for digital vaccine passports. Also what if the 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 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, the state is currently working with Apple for adaptation within Apple’s Wallet app.

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. The FLHSMV said, "the 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, 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. But what if your phone dies? That’s a real consideration but then again you could always lose your driver’s license. 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. 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. Arizona, Delaware, and Oklahoma are all using a 3rd party security company for a digital license. About to launch are Iowa, Louisiana, and Utah. 

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

Email: brianmudd@iheartmedia.com

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