Will US cops accept digitized US driver licenses?

moonman239

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Mar 27, 2009
1,521
22
Some poster somewhere says they don't carry their driver license. Instead, they have some kind of app. It takes a photo of the license or something.

That makes me wonder: do I really need to carry my DL card, or will a traffic cop who asks me for my license let me use my iPhone?
 

scaredpoet

macrumors 604
Apr 6, 2007
6,626
342
So far, Iowa is the only state that has proposed a plan to consider it, but the other 49 states haven't really come forth with anything. In any case, it's not rolled out even in Iowa yet. They're just thinking about it.

The TL;DR answer is: No, no state currently accepts digitized drivers licenses. A cop might accept it if they like your face and are feeling charitable, but they're not legally required to do so, and it's very unlikely that they will in most circumstances.

In any case, there's a much bigger problem with handing over your unlocked smartphone to a cop: they can now take it to their squad car and rifle through it and see whatever they want. Or even worse: hook it up for a mobile Cellebrite forensics unit and get a copy of everything, neatly imaged.

So, in any case, doing this is a very bad idea. So is handing over your phone for digital insurance cards, for that matter.
 

JayLenochiniMac

macrumors G5
Nov 7, 2007
12,815
2,354
New Sanfrakota
They're not officially obligated to accept the digitized version and can hold you until they're able to verify your identity so it's a risk you need to decide on.
 

maflynn

Moderator
Staff member
May 3, 2009
63,857
30,381
Boston
That makes me wonder: do I really need to carry my DL card, or will a traffic cop who asks me for my license let me use my iPhone?
You need your drivers license. An app or your phone is not replacement or the actual license
 

Newtons Apple

Suspended
Mar 12, 2014
22,764
14,920
Jacksonville, Florida
You should come to California where they can now legally obtain DL :rolleyes:
As much as I would love to come and see your spectacular topography, I picked Germany and Switzerland instead.

You need your drivers license. An app or your phone is not replacement or the actual license
Agreed. Our police use the magnetic strip on the back the DL.

We need to keep some type of hard paper identification for sure.:rolleyes:

Needs to also show if you are a citizen of the United States so it can be required to be presented prior to voting.
 

jldesutter83

macrumors 6502
Oct 20, 2013
251
129
Illinois
In Iowa and Illinois the cops can look up your license online if you give them your info. I hardly ever have my license on me.
 

joeblow7777

macrumors 603
Sep 7, 2010
5,969
6,761
And I thought Apple Pay was over reliance on the phone.
I actually think it's pretty neat how our phones can replace cards and documents. Just last week I boarded a plane without having a physical boarding pass for the first time ever. I checked in and had a digital boarding pass emailed to me via the airline's app, and that was one less piece of paper to worry about.
 

wxman2003

Suspended
Apr 12, 2011
2,575
287
Not too sure I would want to hand over my phone to a cop, who then takes it to his car where he can look through everything on your phone. Pictures, FB posts, tweets, texts, etc. The way Iowa is proposing to do it is that you need their app. Thus, you will need to start the app, which will require you to use your passcode, or fingerprint to basically unlock the phone allowing complete access.
 

cousintim

macrumors 6502
Jan 14, 2015
290
149
Just last week I boarded a plane without having a physical boarding pass for the first time ever. I checked in and had a digital boarding pass emailed to me via the airline's app, and that was one less piece of paper to worry about.
I travel frequently for work and was an early adopter of the mobile boarding pass. After a number of rescan prompts by the gate readers, I've gone back to paper BPs.
 

perkedel

macrumors 6502a
Dec 30, 2014
534
202
California
Not too sure I would want to hand over my phone to a cop, who then takes it to his car where he can look through everything on your phone. Pictures, FB posts, tweets, texts, etc. The way Iowa is proposing to do it is that you need their app. Thus, you will need to start the app, which will require you to use your passcode, or fingerprint to basically unlock the phone allowing complete access.
yup, that's my take.
I'm just going to stick with the physical card.
 

scaredpoet

macrumors 604
Apr 6, 2007
6,626
342
Not too sure I would want to hand over my phone to a cop, who then takes it to his car where he can look through everything on your phone. Pictures, FB posts, tweets, texts, etc. The way Iowa is proposing to do it is that you need their app. Thus, you will need to start the app, which will require you to use your passcode, or fingerprint to basically unlock the phone allowing complete access.
I would be a LITTLE bit less concerned by this if they enabled passbook capability, and then installed iBeacons on patrol cars to trigger the pass from the lock screen. Then you could show your license while the phone was still locked.

But, that's a lot of work and a lot of money that I doubt state and local governments would spend for something that only some iPhone users might use. And then I still feel uneasy about handing over an expensive phone to someone if I don't have to.
 

baypharm

Contributor
Nov 15, 2007
1,598
477
I would never hand over my phone to an LEO. Just as I would never volunteer information or talk without having an attorney present. Just solid common sense these days.
 

FieldingMellish

Suspended
Jun 20, 2010
2,440
3,079
I actually think it's pretty neat how our phones can replace cards and documents. Just last week I boarded a plane without having a physical boarding pass for the first time ever. I checked in and had a digital boarding pass emailed to me via the airline's app, and that was one less piece of paper to worry about.
I know, it's clearly convenient. But then I'll become a permanent Apple devotee.
 

Woochifer

macrumors 6502a
Apr 22, 2007
685
0
Nope, because every state has some sort of anti-counterfeit marking built into their driver's licenses. A digital photo would not verify anything, because anyone can more easily duplicate or doctor a JPEG than an ID card with non-photo blue markings, moire-inducing patterns, ultraviolet layers, holograms, and/or embossed imprints.
 

mlody

macrumors 6502a
Nov 11, 2012
998
625
Windy City
my guess is that by the time such law will get implemented, COPS would be equipped with some kind of a scanner or camera to just take a picture of DL or ID, so handing over a cell phone wont be necessary.
 

PDFierro

macrumors 68040
Sep 8, 2009
3,932
111
Is it a big deal to not carry your license on you? Think about the other things you'll need it for as well. It's just a card.
 

Natzoo

macrumors 65816
Sep 16, 2014
1,199
84
Not sure where i am
the answer is no, because it is really easy to make a copy, plus its on a device hackers such as anonymous can easily make a replica. But I'm really happy about anonymous because they are making sure that nothing about the terriost groups makes it on the internet.
 

Lloydbm41

Suspended
Oct 17, 2013
4,025
1,439
Central California
I have yet to see a single law from any State that says you 'must' carry a physical card on your person at all times. The law simply states you 'must' have a 'valid' drivers license to operate a vehicle. Not having a physical card with you does not all of a sudden make your license invalid.

Additionally, you can give a cop your DL number, DOB, name and address and they can easily check the computer in their car for verification of your identity, or call back to base and request a national database pull if you are from out of State. You guys make it sound like a physical DL is the end all, be all, for proof of your identity. It isn't.

But, if it bothers you, keep your license in your car at all times. It is your choice.
 

JayLenochiniMac

macrumors G5
Nov 7, 2007
12,815
2,354
New Sanfrakota
I have yet to see a single law from any State that says you 'must' carry a physical card on your person at all times. The law simply states you 'must' have a 'valid' drivers license to operate a vehicle. Not having a physical card with you does not all of a sudden make your license invalid.

Additionally, you can give a cop your DL number, DOB, name and address and they can easily check the computer in their car for verification of your identity, or call back to base and request a national database pull if you are from out of State. You guys make it sound like a physical DL is the end all, be all, for proof of your identity. It isn't.

But, if it bothers you, keep your license in your car at all times. It is your choice.
How about CVC 12951?

12951. (a) The licensee shall have the valid driver's license
issued to him or her in his or her immediate possession at all times
when driving a motor vehicle upon a highway.

Any charge under this subdivision shall be dismissed when the
person charged produces in court a driver's license duly issued to
that person and valid at the time of his or her arrest, except that
upon a third or subsequent charge the court in its discretion may
dismiss the charge. When a temporary, interim, or duplicate driver's
license is produced in court, the charge shall not be dismissed
unless the court has been furnished proof by the Department of Motor
Vehicles that the temporary, interim, or duplicate license was issued
prior to the arrest, that the driving privilege and license had not
been suspended or revoked, and that the person was eligible for the
temporary, interim, or duplicate license.
(b) The driver of a motor vehicle shall present his or her license
for examination upon demand of a peace officer enforcing the
provisions of this code.
 

AppleRobert

macrumors 603
Nov 12, 2012
5,637
1,099
I have yet to see a single law from any State that says you 'must' carry a physical card on your person at all times. The law simply states you 'must' have a 'valid' drivers license to operate a vehicle. Not having a physical card with you does not all of a sudden make your license invalid.

Additionally, you can give a cop your DL number, DOB, name and address and they can easily check the computer in their car for verification of your identity, or call back to base and request a national database pull if you are from out of State. You guys make it sound like a physical DL is the end all, be all, for proof of your identity. It isn't.

But, if it bothers you, keep your license in your car at all times. It is your choice.
You had any experience with a cop actually doing what you posted? I know they can but that does not mean they will.

I advise most to step cautiously with alternative DL indentification means.