Illinois considering digital driver’s licenses


Sophie Lawson, Staff writer

Illinois is taking a second look at the idea of digitalizing driver’s licenses via the House Bill of 2060

The Secretary of State’s office needs to conduct research on the feasibility and reality of implementing these digital driver’s licenses (DDLs), looking at states with digital driver’s licenses and evaluating their performance, the estimated cost, the impact on law enforcement, and regulations needed to accommodate them. 

Before becoming the Illinois State Senator, Sen. John Connor (D-Lockport) was a former prosecutor. He saw many individuals face traffic court because they did not carry their driver’s license when they needed to.

“If they have their phone with them, then that situation would not come up anymore,” Sen. John Conner said. “They would have the option of showing the officer, using the app, their digital driver’s license and verifying their identity that way.”

On September 1, 2021, Apple announced its IOS 15 software update and its modification to its digital application, Apple Wallet, to be able to house a digital copy of your driver’s license on the iPhone.

COVID-19 created a lot of false starts to this update, compelling Apple to reschedule its release to “early 2022”. Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Oklahoma, and Utah have already announced their support for this new innovation. 

Mr. Chris Landvick, a Driver’s Education teacher at LFHS, says DDL’s “biggest positive is their convenience,” but worries about the legibility and security of these licenses. 

“Regardless of whether you like the idea or not, it is important to understand that the DDL is a supplement to your physical driver’s license, not a replacement,” said Landvick. “So if Illinois adopts this, you can only use the physical version.”

To set up the application, the individual with the driver’s license would need to tap the “+” button in the Apple Wallet and then will be prompted to scan the front and back of their physical driver’s license using the iPhone’s camera. 

A verification task will ask you to confirm your identity by taking a recognizable selfie and completing a series of facial and head movements. 

Once all components of your online driver’s license are complete, the issuing state will be asked to verify the submitted information. Verification from the issuing state then initiates your DDL to sink onto your apple wallet phone app and should be ready for use. 

Mr. Trent Webster, another Driver’s Ed teacher, said digital driver’s licenses (DDLs) in Illinois would be “a handy alternative to a plastic driver’s license” and be beneficial for younger drivers already dependent on their phones. 

“Given that credit cards, plane tickets, are currently being stored on a phone, it seems like the next technological advance would be to add a driver’s license,” said Mr. Webster. “I would imagine once the license is digitized it could make renewing a license much easier too.”

Apple says privacy is their top priority. Information submitted gets stored in the Secure Enclave which protects credentials against tampering and theft. 

“Only presented digitally through encrypted communication directly between the device and the identity reader, so users do not need to unlock, show, or hand over their device,” said Apple

Biometric authentication is also embedded into the application ensuring only the person who inputted the driver’s license in the online system can modify or use the DDL. 

Nor Apple or the issuing state will see when and where users present their digital licenses. You will be able to see what information is being requested by the identity reader before approving the request. 

“I hope the state takes its time and does their due diligence before rolling out the DDL concept. If approved, however, it will open up a myriad of uses throughout one’s day,” said Webster.  “I’m excited to see what happens.”