Unanimous support so far in District of Columbia for mobile driving license

Dec 6, 2021 | Jim Nash

The District of Columbia appears likely to approve voluntary digital licenses for its residents who drive.

Bill 24-043 has progressed unanimously beyond its formal first reading by the D.C. council. That is the second of six required steps toward enactment of a mobile driver’s license (mDL) law.

The bill specifies that showing a police officer the digital ID would not give them the right to search a mobile device holding the document. There are no other privacy provisions attached to the proposed law at this point.

A racial equity impact study on the plan turned up inconclusive findings on whether the mDL would harm residents of color.

District leaders previously approved distribution of digital vehicle registration documents as part of the Department of Motor Vehicles’ Android and iOS apps. Among the data it carries is a vehicle’s identification number, model year and make, tag number and the owner’s residential parking permit.

The driving license would be a legal digital ID in any situation that a physical ID is accepted, except where prohibited by federal law.

In the meantime, Apple continues its efforts to woo the district and the states of use its mobile devices as a person’s driving license.

Mississippi is the latest state to announce an mDL launch, and the credentials’ acceptance is gradually expanding in other states like Utah.

Attempts to create at least the foundation for digital identification nationwide continue, though with little concrete results.