There’s an App for That? New Jersey Digital Driver’s License

With the rise of services like Apple Pay and Google Wallet, smartphones could soon replace the traditional wallet. Soon, a full force digital wallet could become a reality with New Jersey’s hope to implement digital driver’s licenses. State Senator Thomas Kean Jr., is set to propose a bill requesting the Motor Vehicle Commission conduct a study on whether New Jersey should give drivers the option to show an electronic license on their smartphone. Iowa is already in the works to become the first state in the nation to make the physical driver’s license obsolete.

According to an article in NJ.com, AAA said a study is a good place to start, but that the MVC has to answer questions about security from hackers, guarding against fake on-line driver’s licenses, smartphone theft, and limits on what police are allowed to look at when a driver hands them their cell phone.

Thirty-seven states already allow drivers to show proof of auto insurance via a smartphone app, so allowing them to also identify themselves as licensed drivers on a smartphone could be viewed as a natural extension. New Jersey is one of 13 states that don’t accept the e-insurance card. Though, some wonder if it’s appropriate for driver’s licenses.

While convenient, it does come with a number of logistical questions. What if the battery on the phone is dead or the screen is cracked. It also raises security concerns about the possibility of a police officer checking someone’s license on a phone that might inadvertently, or deliberately, see other information like text messages, call logs or photos. If a driver is pulled over, they would therefore have to hand over their phones to an officer to allow them to take it back to the cruiser – this could possibly give them broader access to information they wouldn’t normally get access to. In fact, a Supreme Court case last year ruled that law enforcement searches of cellphones require a warrant, meaning police cannot simply take a driver’s phone and scroll through the contacts, photos or text messages looking for incriminating material.

And even if a NJ digital driver’s license becomes available, and it is optional for drivers, they may still choose to obtain and carry a traditional plastic card.

Traffic violations can affect anyone at any time, from the most law abiding citizen to a career criminal. If you or a loved one has been charged with a traffic violation and are unsure as to what should be done next, contact us today for your free initial consultation at (732) 965-3350. The attorneys at Villani & DeLuca P.C. represent clients throughout Monmouth County and Ocean County, New Jersey.

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