UTAH (ABC4) – What began as a year-long pilot program is now almost at the finish line, making it more convenient than ever for Utahns to digitize their driver’s license.

Announced by the Utah Department of Public Safety’s Driver License Division (DLD), the Mobile ID, or mobile driver’s license (mDL) pilot program was introduced back in June 2021 and was initially open to around 100 residents and eventually expanded to about 3,000 people throughout the year. 

To be clear, the Mobile ID or mDL is a “highly secure, official version of your driver’s license or state-issued ID card (mID) on your phone,” says GET North America, the company behind the mobile ID app platform. “It is not a picture of your ID on your phone.”

The program was authorized by the Utah Legislature in 2019 and in 2020 by the DLD. Although Utah was initially the first state to adopt the program, since 2021, multiple states are now working to adopt the program as well.

Chris Caras, the Director of the Utah Driver License Division, now says the program is moving ahead and is expected to roll out quite soon, although no set date has been announced as final details continued to be tweaked.

“We’re continuing in the pilot project and moving towards production, eventually rolling out the program to the entire state of Utah,” says Caras. The program was initially slated for a May 2022 release, but Caras says Utahns could see the program officially debut in a few weeks if everything goes as planned.

Caras says they’re working with relying parties that would utilize ID verification along with businesses that would accept the mobile ID including retail, banking and more.

When the program debuted, some citizens questioned the program’s safety or potential privacy issues, but the DLD says the app is extremely secure, utilizing a series of private encrypted keys unique to each user. 

Extra secondary verification methods include options for PIN numbers and fingerprint/facial recognition to access the app.

“The mDL really needs to be looked at as an extension of our physical credential,” says Utah DPS. “Just as we have worked for the last 3 years to get this project off the ground, each state will have to do something similar. That is just the first part of building an interoperable ecosystem. Then we have the relying parties who will have their own timeline of adoption. This timeline will be driven by the public and their adoption and want to use an mDL. TSA has announced that they will be launching a pilot of accepting an mDL starting in 2022.”

If you’re unfamiliar about the program, some user benefits are:

  • Contactless transaction – You won’t need to hand your phone or device to anyone.
  • Control of shared data – You control what data is shared on the app.
  • Secured in device – Data is encrypted and requires PIN or biometrics to open.
  • Remote management – Your device can be wiped or deleted in the event it is lost or stolen.
  • Lost Credential (License or ID Card) Recovery – If your mobile ID is lost, it’s much quicker and charge-free to download the app, versus applying for a duplicate card ID.

What are the benefits for the relying/verifying party?

  • Contactless transaction – Never have to touch or access a user’s device.
  • Controlled data – Only have to worry about the data required for the transaction.
  • Security features – All security features are encrypted data with no need to decipher physical security features.
  • Signed by issuing authority – Certificates verify that the credential was issued by DLD.

How many Utah businesses are currently accepting the mDL? As of February 2022, mobile IDs are accepted at:

  • Utah Community Credit Union branches
  • Harmons (City Creek, Traverse Mountain, and Santa Clara)
  • Various State Liquor Stores
  • Midtown Community Health Center (Ogden)

What businesses are coming next?

DLD says they’re working with various gas stations, convenience stores, financial institutions and government agencies to partner with the app. This map shows all businesses that are currently accepting mobile ID.

Touted as contactless and secure, the digital driver’s license can be accessed on an app and then downloaded to your mobile device. The license comes equipped with a scannable QR code that can used anywhere and IDs are required for scanning verification. Any information given on the license is selectively shared and can be limited to as much as a photograph and only the fact that the user is of legal age, which officials say increases privacy compared to all the typical info shown on a physical ID.

Caras wants to remind the public that the program remains a convenient option and not a requirement. He says the app is a convenient function for residents who choose to utilize it.

Eventually, Caras says they’re exploring an option to allow interested citizens to acquire a mobile ID without the need to visit an office location in-person.

Physical ID cards will still be accepted everywhere as the mobile program remains an optional feature for Utahns at this time. For more detailed information about the mobile ID program along with frequently asked questions, click here.