HARRISBURG, PA — Driver’s licenses could soon be available on cell phones in Pennsylvania, authorities said, as the state confirmed they are currently “exploring the concept” of taking the significant step toward digitizing more of daily life.
PennDOT did not give the feature an exact timeline. It’s already available in some form in 10 states.
“While we are in the early stages in Pennsylvania, we are excited for the future of an mDL for driver licensing and proof of identity as an option to serve the future needs of our residents,” PennDOT REAL ID director Sarah Baker said in a statement .
Officials tout the concept as superior to a physical license because it can’t be lost or stolen or broken or damaged, and outdated information can easily be updated. It also offers enhanced security, as users can choose which unneeded sensitive personal information to withhold when presenting it.
Driver’s licenses are already available in the Apple Wallet in Colorado, Hawaii, Mississippi, Ohio, Georgia, Connecticut, Iowa, Kentucky, Oklahoma, and Utah, as well as Puerto Rico. It’s not yet clear if the Pennsylvania license would also be an Apple Wallet feature, an app, or accessible on mobile devices in some other way.
It’s the latest effort by the state to enhance the security of state identification cards. An initiative announced just weeks ago includes a redesign and improvement on all driver’s licenses. A chief enhancement of the new cards is the “Guilloche security design,” which embeds customized security patterning into the card. The cards will also have features that change apperance depending on the viewing angle, an enhancement called “optically variable ghost portrait.” Certain parts of the card are only visible under ultraviolet light.
The new and proposed features are independent of the federal REAL ID requirement, which goes into effect May 23, 2023. Real IDs are not required in Pennsylvania, but driver’s licenses must be REAL IDs by May 3, 2023 in order to be used as identification to board a flight. Passports remain valid for flights as well. For more information on Pennsylvania’s REAL ID program, see online here.