DAVE & DUJANOVIC

Is it time for a digital driver license in Utah? A state lawmaker says yes

Feb 10, 2022, 8:20 PM
Photo: Getty Images...
Photo: Getty Images

SALT LAKE CITY — You have your plane tickets on your phone. But when you get to the airport, you realize you left your driver license at home? Are you OK with your driver license living on your smartphone? A bill in the Utah Legislature proposes to move to a digital driver license (DDL).

Members of the public recently voiced concerns about individual privacy with the DDL. So, the bill’s sponsor talked to KSL NewsRadio about what a digital driver license is and what it is not.

iPhone and Android users can already store on their smartphones credit cards and plane and event tickets.

State Sen. Lincoln Fillmore, R-South Jordan, is proposing a bill — Senate Bill 88 — that would make permanent an electronic license certificate or identification card and would require the Utah Driver License Division “to maintain the security and privacy of information related to” the mobile driver license and ID card.

But his bill stalled Monday evening when the House Public Utilities, Energy and Technology Committee adjourned without voting on the legislation after members of the public cited fears of a United Nations takeover or concentration camps. One woman invoked the New Testament’s Book of Revelation when she called digital driver licenses “moving one step closer to the mark of the beast,” according to Deseret News.

By law and policy, Utah’s mobile driver license only has the same data that is included in a physical driver license, according to Joe Dougherty, director of public affairs for the Utah Department of Public Safety.

“The Utah Driver License Division does not want and will not want to expand the app’s scope beyond driver license data,” Dougherty told USA TODAY via email. “There is no desire to commingle other government documents – fishing and hunting licenses, vaccine records, etc. – into the driver license.”

What is a digital driver license?

Fillmore spoke with KSL NewsRadio’s Dave Noriega.

“The digital driver’s license is just a different way to carry your driver’s license. So, that instead of carrying around that piece of really thick paper in your wallet, you’d be just be able to carry it electronically on your phone,” the senator said.

The physical Utah driver license has security features, such as a unique ID number. It also has a laser-engraved ghost image embedded into the license. It also has a beehive image embedded directly into the cardstock on the back of the license, allowing ID verification officials to determine a Utah driver’s license’s validity by simply holding it up to the light, according to ID Scanner.

Download app to smartphone

“So what are the security enhancements that you’re talking about? What does it look like practically on my phone. Do I have to download an app?” Dave asked.

“Yeah, you download an app, and then that app just pulls information that the [Utah] Driver License Division already stores. And so the way that the physical license looks on your phone is similar in ways to your digital driver’s license,” Fillmore said.

He added the security features on the DDL go beyond holograms and watermarks.

“[DDL] has is a clock that is just constantly changing, so that you can’t fake it by just taking a picture and making edits and things like that,” he said. “There’s a clock that’s constantly changing on it, so that you can verify that this is an actual live connection.”

Fillmore added that “anywhere you would use your paper driver’s license, you could use your digital driver’s license.”

Digital driver license does not track vaccination status 

Could you link the DDL app you download onto your phone to anything else, like a Social Security card? Dave asked.

“No, it stands alone. It only connects to the Driver License Division data that’s already there. (And) It doesn’t connect anywhere else. It doesn’t connect to any other app on your phone,” Fillmore said. “The QR code that [the app] generates does not contain any of your personal data. It just contains an encryption key that unlocks just the information that you have chosen to share at the Driver License Division.”

The police officer or liquor-store employee who scans your DDL only sees what you decide to share, he added.

“This digital driver’s license on your phone does not give the state or anybody else any information about you that they don’t already have, which is just your name, your address, birthdate, your driver’s license number things like that,” he said.

Related: No, this Utah bill is not a UN ploy to force the National Guard to give you a COVID-19 vaccine

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Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play. 

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Is it time for a digital driver license in Utah? A state lawmaker says yes