Digital driver’s licenses are a legal form of ID, but are not widely recognized

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Digital driver's licenses have been available to Alabama license and smartphone holders since 2015. And even thought they may not be recognized by everyone, they are still a legal form of identification.

A digital license is offered to you for free when you renew your license online. Some of our WHNT News 19 viewers have reported encountering confusion as to where these licenses are accepted.

Digital license holder Gavin Zingsheim opted for a digital license out of convenience.

"I have my phone on me at all times, my life is in the phone. More so than my wallet," he said.

He's carried his digital license since June 2018, and says it has been the exact opposite of convenient. In fact, he says it's been a hindrance.

"In general, some people will know what they are but they won't accept it-- my bank, my doctor's office, they don't accept it," Zingsheim said.

Even law enforcement has appeared to not recognize a digital license as an official form of ID when Zingsheim has presented it to them.

"He had never heard of it at all," he said.

WHNT News 19 confirmed that digital licenses are a legal form of ID in Alabama.

"It's a digital version of your Alabama driver's license," said Capt. Jonathan Archer with ALEA's Driver's License Division. "And it has the same information on it as your driver's license at the time that you renewed it."

Archer said that the digital license is still considered a new technology and may not be recognized by some retailers and law enforcement.

But this technology has been around for four years now, and Zingsheim said the growing pains aren't worth it.

"There are very few people that even know what it is," he said. "I just bit the bullet, went in, and had to purchase a new license."

Capt. Archer says for now it's safest to still have a hard copy of your license.

"We can remind law enforcement that they may run into this," he said.

ALEA plans to do another push to educate law enforcement and retailers on this acceptable form of ID, and hopes it will be a convenience in the near future.

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