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Ask Policeman Dan: Can I show a digital version of my driver's license for identification?

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Heyburn Police Chief Dan Bristol

Heyburn Police Chief Dan Bristol

Q: My proof of insurance is displayed via a smartphone app and that counts as proof of insurance. Could I also have some type of digital version of my driver’s license or do I have to keep the physical copy on me? — Russell

A: I see a day where that might be a possibility but showing proof of insurance where picture identity is really not needed is not as much of a problem as showing identification of who you are. Although you could take a digital picture of your driver’s license and show it to anybody, it would not constitute proper identification (but for some of us it could be a helpful reminder of who we are when we forget).

Driver’s licenses are required at all times when in actual physical control of a motor vehicle or motorcycle. It used to be that we called it carrying your piece of paper with you but now with what driver’s licenses are made of we can’t say that anymore. Some driver’s licenses can even be scanned to make ticket writing faster so that a driver could get down the road quicker but at the correct speed.

I need to mention that not carrying a driver’s license when driving does constitute a violation of Idaho Code 49-316: “Every licensee shall have his driver’s license in his immediate possession at all times when operating a motor vehicle and shall, upon demand, surrender the driver’s license into the hands of a peace officer for his inspection. However, no person charged with a violation of the provisions of this section shall be convicted if a driver’s license issued to the person and valid at the time of his arrest is produced in court.” Although it says arrest, getting a misdemeanor citation is actually an arrest just not one where you spend time in a small room.

Although a driver’s license can’t be digital I could see that taking a photo of an identification card could work when giving identification that was not needed to purchase items where a valid form of identification was needed but then again a regular form of identification does not need to have its batteries charged to be seen.

In conclusion the short answer to your question is, no you can’t use a digital version of your driver’s license. Keeping your physical copy is much cheaper to have. Besides there might be a day when your driver’s license is a chip implanted in you and who wants that?

Officer down

Please put these officers, killed in the line of duty, and their families in your prayers. They fought the good fight, now may they rest in peace. God bless these heroes.

  • Correctional Officer IV Toamalama Scanlan, Fresno County Sheriff California
  • Deputy Constable Kareem Atkins, Harris County Constable’s Office—Precinct 4, Texas

Have a question for Policeman Dan? Email your questions to or look for Ask Policemandan on Facebook and click the like button. Mail to: Box 147, Heyburn, Idaho, 83336.

Dan Bristol is the Heyburn chief of police.


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