Skip to main content

Iowa will let you use your smartphone as your driver's license starting in 2015

Iowa will let you use your smartphone as your driver's license starting in 2015

Share this story

If you buy something from a Verge link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Iowa isn't usually the first state that pops into your head when you think of technological innovation centers in the US, but the state has recently announced a pretty major upgrade to the humble driver's license. As reported by the Des Moines Register, Iowa plans to offer official driver's licenses as smartphone apps starting sometime in 2015. Citizens will still be able to have a standard card-style license, but it doesn't sound like that will be a requirement. "It is basically your license on your phone," said Iowa's department of transportation director Paul Trombino. What's not clear yet is what platforms will be supported — images showed the app running on an iPhone, but we'd have to expect at least Android to be supported as well.

In some ways, it's an extension of a policy Iowa already has in place that lets drivers use electronic proof of insurance when being stopped by cops. This smartphone-based license will likewise be accepted for police stops and at airports in the state. It's certainly an intriguing, forward-thinking option, but it's also questionable how practical it'll be when it launches. Sure, you might be able to use your smartphone license to fly out of Iowa, but will other states and their airports accept it? Or how about just simply getting carded at a bar? There's also the fact that smartphone batteries die — we wouldn't want to get pulled over with a dead phone and have no proof of ID handy. Still, our wallets have been moving to our smartphones for years now — getting electronic ID is probably the next logical step.