New Illinois law would allow state to issue digital driver’s licenses, IDs

Illinois lawmakers passed legislation that would allow the state to begin issuing digital driver's licenses and identification cards.
(Getty Images)

Illinois lawmakers on Friday passed a bill that, if approved by the governor, will enable the state to issue digital driver’s licenses and identification cards.

The bill, which lawmakers passed unanimously and now heads to Gov. J.B. Pritzker, would allow Illinoisans to carry identification cards on their smartphones. Illinois’ secretary of state would be responsible for the program, one part of the office’s effort to modernize the state’s technologies.

“It’s secure, it’s efficient, it’s convenient and it’s the wave of the future,” Illinois Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias told WGEM in February.

The bill’s sponsor, state Rep. Kam Buckner told WGEM he was inspired by Louisiana’s digital driver’s license app. In 2018, Louisiana became the first state in the country to create a digital driver’s license app. Several other states — including Arkansas, Colorado, Texas and Virginia — have since followed suit.


Buckner previously introduced digital ID legislation in Illinois, but the attempt failed.

The recently passed bill requires the secretary of state’s office to implement a digital ID system that maximizes “the privacy of the credential holder in accordance with State and federal law and shall not track or compile information without the credential holder’s consent,” according to the bill text. It also forbids policies that would require anyone to carry electronic credentials instead of physical ones.

Although the bill would allow residents to provide digital identification, they must provide physical ID when requested by law enforcement. According to the bill text, presenting a mobile ID to a law enforcement officer — or any other person — does not serve as consent to search, view or access any other data or applications on the device.

Keely Quinlan

Written by Keely Quinlan

Keely Quinlan reports on privacy and digital government for StateScoop. She was an investigative news reporter with Clarksville Now in Tennessee, where she resides, and her coverage included local crimes, courts, public education and public health. Her work has appeared in Teen Vogue, Stereogum and other outlets. She earned her bachelor’s in journalism and master’s in social and cultural analysis from New York University.

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