The State Legislature last week adopted a resolution directing the Delaware Division of Motor Vehicles to study and consider digital licenses for motorists, the News Journal reported.
"We'd like to go first," Jennifer Cohan, DMV director and the governor's nominee for secretary of transportation, told the paper. "If it works for Delaware, then it will be a new option for Delaware citizens to show proof of driver's license and identification."
To be first, Delaware will have to beat out Iowa, which is now running a pilot program to test digital driver's licenses. Both states, along with 40 others, use the driver's license vendor MorphoTrust USA, which began working on the concept of digital licenses two years ago.
"It's an idea whose time has come," said Jenny Openshaw, the company's vice president for state and local sales. "Smartphones are becoming more and more a digital wallet. Eventually, the last piece of plastic I need to carry around with me is a driver's license."
As part of the plan, the virtual license would be stored inside a mobile app, which is expected to launch in 2016. The app would show all the information on your typical driver's license – name, birthdate, address, signature and photo. For added security, it would require a personal ID code as well as facial, fingerprint, or voice authentication.
The Delaware DMV does not plan on eliminating hard plastic licenses.
Last year, Delaware joined 33 other states that now allow motorists to show electronic proof of insurance during traffic stops.
Chase Cotton, a professor in the University of Delaware's electrical and computer engineering department, said convenience and simplicity make the digital ID an inevitability, but wondered why anyone would want a government-written app on their smartphone.
"They're probably not going to do anything bad, but most people have a lot of private information on their phones," he said.