By on December 12, 2014

Iowa Drivers License App

Live and drive in Iowa? The state’s DOT will soon have an app that will act as your license.

The Des Moines Register reports the app will be free of charge to all Iowa drivers when it arrives sometime next year, and is as official as the traditional plastic license card one receives after waiting forever and a day in the DMV; drivers can still get the more tangible version if so desired.

Iowa is also one of 30 states that allows drivers to present insurance information in electronic form during a traffic stop. Per Iowa DOT director Paul Trombino, having a digital license is only logical. He adds that the app will be secure via PIN verification, and will be accepted by security in Iowa’s airports, as well.

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73 Comments on “Iowa DOT Introducing Driver’s License App In 2015...”


  • avatar
    Lie2me

    What if I leave Iowa? Doesn’t this have to be accepted in all 50 states to even be cons1dered a viable app?

    • 0 avatar
      theupperonepercent

      “As Iowa goes – so goes the nation”…

      or at least that’s what I hear during campaigns.

      I doubt other states would have a problem accepting this. My thing is, you still have to have power to show this (just like an airline ticket). If your phone dies – do you get a ticket?

      The cops should simply have their own device of this sort to check ID’s at any given time.

    • 0 avatar
      Xeranar

      Reciprocation would apply, but I suspect Iowa would still issue cards. So technically yes, other states would have to accept it as a valid form of ID whether they liked it or not because of the reciprocation rules.

  • avatar
    mags1110

    dumb

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      Care to elaborate?

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        Ever heard of a smartphone being stolen or lost? Dead batteries, power outage, failure to pay your provider, identity theft, etc.? The more complicated the tech, the more ways things can go wrong.

        • 0 avatar
          Drzhivago138

          When I ask for people to elaborate, I don’t necessarily agree or disagree with their POV; I just don’t think one word (not even capitalized) constitutes a valid comment. This is TTAC, not YouTube.

          Also, to answer your argument:
          1.) “[D]rivers can still get the more tangible version if so desired.”
          2.) That’s the same argument against cylinder shutoff, hybrids, multi-speed automatic transmissions, CVTs, VVT, ESC and RSC, OBD, OBD II, fuel injection, automatic transmissions in general, automatic choke, hell, internal combustion engines. Or, if you want to be more general, anything more advanced than a telegraph machine.

  • avatar
    theupperonepercent

    I got pulled over by the cops – just as a check – and they asked for my license. Somehow, I left my wallet at home. I gave them my insurance card and my social security number. They looked it up. They let me go home with no ticket.

    Most of the systems that require a license or photo ID are digital now. They should be able to pull up your info with either your Social Security number or your driver’s license ID.

    As for showing cops my license, I don’t like it.
    Most states disallow cops from searching your phone if they don’t have a password, but the law doesn’t stop them from using your fingerprint.

    My solution: We should be able to have a “wrong finger” prompt which ERASES the phone’s contents.

    I’d normally login with my right thumb.
    Cop doesn’t know that.
    This time, Officer, login with my left.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      I like it, as long as you can’t accidentally try and log in with the wrong finger and erase everything

      • 0 avatar
        theupperonepercent

        Type the wrong password 3 times, iOS erases all contents. It can’t be stopped.

        Take the phone to your computer and iTunes refreshes the entire phone as if nothing happened.

        I love that.

        In fact, if I had anything incriminating on my phone and thought I might be arrested, erasing it would be step one.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      So you’ve got something to hide, eh….

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      The cop was able to look you up with your Social Security Number? What state do you live in? Nevermind, don’t tell me. I don’t want to get them in trouble with the Feds.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        Your SS# is your ID number if you’re in the military. There used to be a “promise” it wouldn’t be used for identification, but now it’s your Selective Service number if you registered for the draft, and your Infernal Revenue taxpayer ID number too.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          When I joined the USAF in 1965 I was issued a Serial Number AF12345678 that I had to stencil on all my stuff, even my underwear. I still have that number on my original dogtags.

          A few years later the social security number became the sole identifier for everything.

          Now, they have omitted the ssan from our ID cards and drivers licenses and put unique serial numbers back as identifiers.

          The more things change, the more they stay the same.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          When I joined the USAF in 1965 I was issued a Serial Number AF12345678 that I had to stencil on all my stuff, even my under wear. I still have that number on my original dog tags.

          A few years later the social security number became the sole identifier for everything.

          Now, they have omitted the ssan from our !D cards and drivers licenses and put unique serial numbers back as identifiers.

          The more things change, the more they stay the same.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    For Iowa being a Conservative state, that’s a very Progressive concept. I would be a little concerned about security, seeing as the majority of smartphone users have Android devices–notoriously insecure–but it looks like they’ve got the issue handled. And you certainly don’t HAVE to put the phone in the officer’s hand. Besides, worrying about an officer trying to crawl through your smartphone while on a simple traffic stop; he simply doesn’t have enough time to do so and there are still laws against “unreasonable search and seizure”. They still can’t do it without reasonable cause. A traffic stop is not reasonable cause in itself. How you ACT during that traffic stop on the other hand…

    • 0 avatar
      sproc

      I don’t see how you could NOT hand over the phone if it’s the only driver’s license you’re carrying. Is there anywhere police don’t take your DL, registration and insurance back to their car during a traffic stop?

      I suppose it’s better than getting a ticket for not having your license on you, but I hate handing over my unlocked phone to any stranger regardless of reason.

      • 0 avatar
        darkwing

        Doesn’t Android have some sort of way to access cards from the lock screen? I have my iPhone set up this way — things like boarding passes, loyalty cards, etc. are accessible when locked.

    • 0 avatar
      Ubermensch

      I live in Iowa and would not call it a conservative state. Yes, some areas are conservative but if you look at recent elections Iowa is more purple than red. Although, we did just elect that wack-job Joni Ernst and we have that embarrassment to the human race Steve King.

      • 0 avatar
        Brad2971

        Meh. Iowa can’t be that conservative if its DOT is building a dual freeway to replace a stretch of freeway that barely gets 75K VPD:

        http://councilbluffsinterstate.iowadot.gov/

        I’ll refrain from addressing the kvetching regarding Sen. Joni Ernst.

    • 0 avatar
      Xeranar

      Iowa is not a conservative state. Iowa’s a moderate state akin to Pennsylvania or Ohio. Rural red folks vs Urban blue folks. Really it isn’t all that crazy since it just adds another ID to the slate of available avenues.

      As for using it as ID at a traffic stop, the courts would have to decide IF the police have a right to even take your phone off you in that situation let alone move away from that app. If it comes down they can always password that app to lock to that image until properly accessed.

  • avatar
    Shane Rimmer

    I won’t use something like this unless it supports a lockscreen view that doesn’t force me to unlock my phone before showing it to the police. My phone is password protected and encrypted for a reason, and I’m not going to just hand over an unlocked phone to the nice police officer standing by my window.

  • avatar
    turf3

    Well, given the well known reliability of computers (there are only two kinds of computers, those that have failed catastrophically and those that will do so soon), this has the potential to go awry in so many ways, all of them really ugly.

    Hint to those of you who think computer technology will solve everything just as soon as all of us are 100% dependent on it for everything: it won’t.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just needs to be better than old paper system.

      When I started traveling for work way back when, we used to travel on refundable paper tickets that were like bearer bonds. If you lost it, anyone who found it could bring it to a ticket agent and get a cash refund – no questions asked. Now, it’s all electronic and if you lose your boarding pass, you just print a new one or use the one on your phone.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Sounds like you’ve never used a Macintosh. Things last much longer than generic PCs.

      • 0 avatar
        beastpilot

        Whhhhaaaaa? You are talking about Apple, the company that discontinued all support for the original iPad less than 18 months after they sold the last one and made it so software couldn’t run on both old and new systems?

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          Strange. My iPad 1 runs almost as well as it did new with all the original software I had in it. Granted, I haven’t updated either it or the software in it to newer versions, but it still works fine for my purposes.
          As far as that goes, exactly how much support have you had from YOUR manufacturer?

          • 0 avatar
            beastpilot

            And I have a 10 year old “generic PC” that works fine too. Weirdly, I can put any software I want on it.

            I also have a 4 year old Android tablet that is running just fine, running the latest Android version, and will run all the latest apps.

            Apple updated iOS to a version that will not run on an original iPad about a year ago. They also required any application that was updated after the change to no longer work on the old OS.

            The idea that Apple hardware or systems as a whole are more stable than a PC, Android, or anything else is just completely unfounded. Not saying they are worse, but a simple statement that they are generically longer lasting than a PC smacks of fanboi-isim.

            I say all of this as someone that owns an original iPad as well for a very specific purpose, and Apple’s iOS update made it worthless since I could no longer update the app I used it for. The app is an aviation database program and requires continuous updates so no longer being able to update it makes it worthless.

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      A PC vs Mac war?

      Now I’m all nostalgic for the late 80’s.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        My personal experience with Macs is that they are more reliable and longer lasting. Part of that is due to the higher-spec components Apple uses to build their machines (typically 2% spec vs 5% or 10% by some other brands) and the rest is due to the OS not being sensitive to Windows viruses.

        Despite all arguments to the contrary, Windows still carries code and vulnerabilities that reach all the way back to Win95 and earlier. Microsoft has patched and bypassed many of those vulnerabilities, but new updates tend to re-expose them and a few of the worst they were litigated into re-opening because the Anti-Viruse vendors claimed Microsoft was specifically trying to block them in a monopolistic move rather than actually trying to protect their code. As such, Windows is still far too sensitive to malware than it could be and I end up making quite a bit of money off of repairing Windows machines.

        I used to custom build PCs too, but there just wasn’t enough profit in it for me. I’d spend $800 to get good quality components and spend about 6 to 8 hours assembling and testing it, spend another $100-$200 to install Windows and maybe get $1200 for my effort. The time and labor to research, purchase, assemble and deliver a one-off machine is simply not worth it at $15/hour. I have better things to do with my time.

        • 0 avatar
          beastpilot

          Tell me more about these 2% spec components that last longer than the 5% spec components. I’m an electrical engineer that designs avionics for aircraft and have never heard of them.

          Please tell me you aren’t arguing that a 5% tolerance resistor will fail earlier than a 1% resistor.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Hmmm… long response got blocked. Let’s simplify it.

            Computer is conglomeration of parts, yes?
            Computer parts must all work together to make machine work, yes?
            When tolerances of parts are broad, too easy for computer to fall out of ‘spec’ and quit working.
            When tolerances of parts are tight, very difficult for computer to fall out of ‘spec’ and quit working.

            Same thing happens to cars.

  • avatar
    JMII

    Good luck getting thru airport security with this. As is people with electronic boarding passes confuse the TSA enough already. They just demand you show “your papers”. Their scanners fail to read the phone screens and your phone goes thru the x-ray machine then your documents are no longer in your hands thus causing yet another round of “who are you? and where are you going?” from the security theater folks. I do a lot of traveling for work thus I see this stuff all the time. So I always print my boarding pass to avoid confusing the authorities with so called “advanced technology” like a simple smart phone app. Also an app seems way easier to fake/forge then a real ID which has various kinds of document protection (like UV ink, magnetic strip, encoded images, micro security etc). Part of my job involves paper based security measures and the whole idea behind it is having access to equipment that is too expensive and complex for an individual to operate. A smart phone is neither… in the hands of your typical computer hacker (which is anyone over the age of 9 these days) your phone is too easy to compromise.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      Hum… I’m on the road 45 weeks a year and never have a problem with the boarding pass on my phone. It’s even faster than with a paper boarding pass as with the paper pass, the TSA folks need to scribble all over it. With the phone pass they just glance at their little screen, then glance at your license, glance at your and you’re through.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      …Tell me, where are you finding these 10-year-old computer hackers? And don’t say the obvious answer (“China”).

  • avatar
    rudiger

    Hand my unlocked smartphone over to a cop so they can root through it, hoping to find something they can arrest me on? F*ck that.

  • avatar
    beastpilot

    A hundred thousand 18 year old college freshmen just collectively yelled OH HELL YES.

    How does this not make fake ID’s insanely easy? It’s a picture on your screen now accepted as ID. So why can’t I just have a .JPG on my phone that I pasted my picture on and hand that to the Cop/Bouncer/TSA agent/DMV/Loan officer giving you a subprime, no-down, 100 month loan, etc?

    I realize all ID’s can be faked, but this makes it silly easy. At this point I fail to see why they don’t just accept your verbal statement that you are who you say you are.

    If the idea is that you have to show that you launched the correct app, typed in a PIN, were connected to the network and server… Well, it’s one week until someone has an app on the store that does all of that for a dollar and allows you to input any data you want.

  • avatar
    SaulTigh

    The smartphone has caused us all to collectively take leave of our senses.

    • 0 avatar
      petezeiss

      Not moi! All I have is a flip phone that always sits in the car unless I’m charging it.

      But I’m viewed as a freak as much by my peers and elders as by the kiddiewinkies.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        “But I’m viewed as a freak…”

        Those “troll-like” people you live amongst are smarter then I thought ;-)

        • 0 avatar
          petezeiss

          Yah, well, gotta have sometin’ ta do when yer sittin’ on da ice waitin’ for fish bite, eh?

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            That’s why you need a smart phone, nothing else says “hipster” quite like sitting in an ice shack with a bottle of Jack commenting on TTAC

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Thinkpad X60 with a WAN card for me, smartphones are for noobs.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            A little awkward to carry around in your jeans pocket

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            I’m still using a TracFone with prepaid minutes, no camera and no pics, no apps and no data. Hey, it works for what I need it for; to make phone calls or text.

            But the rest of the family? Yup, everyone of them has a smart phone, loaded with apps they use everyday, plus an iPad or Samsung Tablet.

            Hell, even my 86-yo mother-in-law is busy taking selfies with her grandkids and great-grandkids, and then sending them out to everyone that can receive the pics.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            If I’m in an iceshack in Wisconsin waiting for fish to bite, I’m rolling the Thinkpad to stave off my boredom. On a regular night, I leave the computers at home. This whole “constantly connected” meme is a disease in the making.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            I have an iPhone, Galaxy S5 phone, a Galaxy note tablet and a Windows phone, because job

          • 0 avatar
            petezeiss

            “I’m still using a TracFone with prepaid minutes”

            Me too, HDC, costed me 11 bucks American.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            petezeiss, yeah, I think that sounds right.

            I picked mine up at Wal-Mart and it came with 10 minutes. But it was such a long time ago, I really can’t be sure.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            When I’m not working they all sit in a pile on my desk and I don’t touch them

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Lie2Me, we don’t have that luxury. Ours are on 24/7/366.

            Just recently upgraded the two iPads and iPhones with iOS8.1.2, and the changes on the phones are evident.

            Hell, even my Tracfone is on 24/7/366, even while it is charging every night. I cannot recall when we have ever turned off phones, iPads, Tablets, PCs, fax machines, or printers.

            Once bought, turned on and set up, they stay on.

          • 0 avatar
            petezeiss

            Any new tech is awesome until you have to use it every bleepin’ day. Then it’s just more crap to haul around and forget somewhere 70 miles behind you.

            And while I appreciate the insanely great fantabulousness of smart phones, powerful pocket computers they be, those dinky screens are just so useless.

            Laptop’s as small as I go… gotta have a keyboard, don’t want to fingerpaint my input with skin oil. Eewww…

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Glass Wipes are your friend

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            petezeiss, all this new tech is the wave of the future. We can no longer function without it.

            I’ll admit that the iPad Air clad in a Belkin Qode has got to be the handiest little laptop I have ever used anywhere.

            Coupled with the hotspot in the iPhone we can be on the road anywhere and still use both iPhones and iPads while rolling down the highway.

            Truth be told, I would much rather sit in front of my DellXPS27 Win8.1 PC, but that gets too involved when I’m on the porcelain throne. An iPad allows me to do my best thinking on that throne.

            I use a clean t-shirt to wipe the glass on the phones, tablets, iPads and the Dell XPS27. Don’t use windex or glass wipes. The gorilla glass is treated with oleo-polymer from the factory. Best to leave that on. Ammonia takes it off.

          • 0 avatar
            petezeiss

            I’ll pay for my cable broadband, ain’t no way I’m also paying for a cellular data plan.

            No.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Work pays for all my mobile

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Yeah, the cost of connectivity is outrageous, for an individual or family.

            But people who own a business let the business pick up that tab as a legitimate business expense and just tack on users and devices as needed.

            We’re with Verizon now but have been with Sprint, T-Mobile, AT&T and even CenturyLink over the years.

            It would not be doable for many individuals to cough up the cost of Broadband and Mobile plans but business owners see it as a legitimate business expense. And so does the IRS.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    I’d like to know more about how it works, but I suspect this will end up being incredibly abused at the very least by kids trying to buy beer.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      Fake ID app… never thought of that

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        First thing which came to my mind, but how easy that would be depends on how it works. Even if the app was somewhat secure an enterprising teenager could simply make his own app which looked like the state app but only displayed his credentials (or fake credentials with his pic overlayed). Much more difficult for the local rugrats to figure out how to physically make a plastic id (or overlay their pic on an existing one) and come up with the hologram covering. Ask me how I know :)

  • avatar
    mikedt

    The whole idea of having to carry a license and registration is asinine. The first thing the cop does when you give this stuff to him is verify it via the computer. So why do I need it in the first place? Hell. before he’s even walked to your window he’s run the plate, verified the owner – and I’m guessing has looked for outstanding warrants and license status, registration status and the make/model/color of the vehicle itself. The need to carry paper that just backs up what his computer says is just an excuse for more tickets. Because, lets be honest, no matter what you hand him, he’s going to believe his computer above anything else.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      The verified owner and the driver are not always one in the same, the license also serves as primary informal identification of a person whether they are on the road or on the street. I do agree with you on the computer though, something else the license serves them is a way to look for open warrants on the driver. Here the state database handles registration but the county handles all of the other local issues (i.e. bench warrant for failure to appear in court, child support etc). So they do not get this information from the initial plate scan, but can get it after they run the license, at least AFAIK. I’ll ask the next time I run into my bro.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      So the data is in his computer–as far as it goes. How does he confirm that YOU are the authorized owner/driver and that YOU are who the computer says you are? He still needs to see something with that authorized picture on it (for visual comparison) and quite honestly the police computers don’t know if your car is properly insured or not since the insurance companies don’t tell them.

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