Colorado is the first state to launch Digital Driver’s License live pilot

Last updated: 02 December 2019

In November 2016, Gemalto received a government grant to pilot a smartphone-based digital driver’s license (DDL) within four US jurisdictions. Since then, we’ve been hard at work with Colorado, Idaho, Maryland, and Washington D.C. Last month, Colorado was the first state to start their live activity – see below for how the pilot has gone so far.

What are we testing? The DDL Pilot Use Cases

A digital driver’s license is a highly secure, supplemental version of your physical driver’s license or ID card that is stored on your smartphone. To test the effectiveness of this new form of identity, the Colorado pilot focused on three main use cases:

  • Enrollment for a DDL and getting it working on your phone
  • Presenting the digital driver’s license to law enforcement
  • Displaying your license for age verification for purchase of age-restricted goods or entry into venues with age restrictions

If you’d like to learn how a DDL works, take a look at our infographic here.

Throughout the pilot, we surveyed and interviewed participants. We will be publishing our insights and lessons learned later this year, so make sure you keep an eye out for updates. So, how did we run the trial?

First Step – Enrolling and Testing the DDL at the DMV

To kick things off, we set up an enr​ollment workstation at a new Denver DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) facility for several of our pilot volunteers – mostly made up of DMV employees – to enroll and access their new DDLs.

In a very similar process to the real-life scenario, our volunteers had their license information captured and pictures taken. Each volunteer then downloaded the DigiDL app on their device, completed the pairing process with their DL profile, and securely downloaded their digital driver’s license onto their phone. Once downloaded, the DDL is protected by a fingerprint or PIN code, to preserve credential security.

Several key fraud investigations personnel were on site to give us feedback and perspective on some of the issues they encounter every day with fraudulent credentials and purported identity thieves that come into the DMV.

Next at the DMV, pilot participants went through a simulated scenario of presenting their DDL for law enforcement verification. A top special investigator from the Colorado gaming control division walked us through interactions he would have in his day-to-day job of verifying the identity and age of those wishing to partake at Colorado’s gambling and gaming entertainment venues. This test-case illustrated how effective DDLs can be at helping verify in-state (and eventually out-of-state) credentials in a more reliable and error-proof manner.

Second Step – Taking the DDL to Commercial Environments

Over several days during the Colorado DDL pilot, we took the DDL to the streets and put it to the test in real commercial environments. We started at Capitol Convenience, a trendy convenience store near the state capitol in downtown Denver.

To buy age-restricted goods such as alcohol, cashiers will ask to see your ID. They need to verify you are presenting a valid ID, you are its rightful owner and that you are above the age restriction. Unlike a law enforcement scenario, the cashier doesn’t need to see your full name, address, or exact date of birth, so those details are hidden for privacy’s sake.

To confirm validity, the cashier scans your DDL and receives real-time approval that your ID is real and you are above the age restriction. The cashier can also perform a visual confirmation that you are indeed the person pictured on the DDL.

Multiple pilot participants went through the age verification scenario at Capitol Convenience, and we took time to discuss the use case at length with both the store owner and check-out manager. While initially skeptical, the store owner was pleased to find the solution to be easy, fast and secure.

Three additional merchants – King Sooper’s, Amendment XXI and AppleJack Wine & Spirits –  also took part in the pilot. With their great cooperation, we managed to repeat the age verification test with many of our participants as they bought restricted goods. We were thrilled with the opportunity to test a wide variety of smartphone devices in multiple environments and learn from each scenario.

Buying Lottery Tickets? Show your DDL

The Colorado Lottery’s Denver Claim Center is where you go to buy lottery tickets and if you’re lucky – to claim your prize. But you need to prove your age when you do that, so we headed over to try to use DDLs there.

Fortunately, staff at the claim center were excited to see and test the new technology. After they ran through the test scenario, we surveyed the group and held individual interviews to gather their comments and feedback.

Colorado embraces DDLs at the Cherry Creek Arts Festival

While the pilot participants were pre-selected in the specific use cases above, we also wanted to see what the everyday Coloradan thought about DDL. So, we tagged along with the Colorado Lottery Division’s Dream Machine truck as it set out for the Cherry Creek Arts Festival in Denver, which attracts 350,000 visitors over the course of the three-day event, and set up a demo of how a DDL is used in proof-of-age scenarios.

At the Cheery Creek Arts Festival, many people were excited about having their DDLs on their smartphones.

Throughout the day we spoke with festival goers of all ages, backgrounds, demographics and technology profiles to gather their thoughts about DDLs. Almost everyone was, at the very least, interested in learning about and seeing the new technology, and this audience was clearly excited about the prospect of having a version of their driver’s license on their phones.

We’ll be sharing additional conclusions and results as we compile them, but it’s safe to say that the first DDL pilot event was a success! Next, the DDL pilot commences in Maryland and Washington D.C., so keep an eye out for more updates.

The pilot ended in May 2019. Since November 2019, the State of Colorado has added a digital driver license functionality to their MyColorado app. This app was not developed by Gemalto and our participation in the project finished at the end of the pilot.

18 thoughts on “Colorado is the first state to launch Digital Driver’s License live pilot

    1. Hi Clarke,

      Thanks so much for your enthusiasm and interest in DDL! Unfortunately, at this time the pilot is still limited to a group of selected CO DMV participants. We are working hard alongside our partners to ensure that DDL will be an option for any resident in the near future.

      In the meantime, please do stay engaged in our pilot activity and news. And feel free to drop us a line at – We would be happy to add your name to a wait-list of people who are interested in being part of a later phase of test participants.

      Thanks again,

  1. How much will this cost? I much to maintain this system? What if people can’t afford high speed cell phone to download DDL? What are disadvantages of this program?

    1. Hi Robert,

      Thanks for your thoughtful questions.

      One of the great things about our DDL is that it doesn’t require data connectivity to be verified. Outside of the initial download of your DDL (which can be done over WiFi or 4G and is a relatively small data file), the DDL doesn’t require a heavy data plan.

      In terms of cost, it will be up to each individual state to determine the fee structure for a DDL, just as-is the case with physical driver’s license fees now. We feel a DDL will be an optional supplement to a physical credential in which people can elect to enroll, at least in the foreseeable future.

      The biggest disadvantage or challenge that I see is the vastness of the market and ecosystem. There are a lot of different players – from law enforcement to retailers to government agencies to airlines, etc – who will need to work in cooperation to make a DDL be something that could really achieve widespread adoption.

      Hope this helps to give you a better understanding of the DDL!


  2. One big issue what happens when you don’t have service on highway and get pulled over by law enforcer? Sinc everything’s are going digital?

    1. Another great question, and a common concern among end-users and law enforcement alike! Since the DDL is stored in an encrypted file on the smartphone itself and the verification happens through a digital signature via PKI, it doesn’t require network connectivity or cell service. You can actually put your phone in airplane mode, with all network access turned off, and still perform a verification. So even if you are pulled over in an area without service, your DDL will still function.

      That said, the DDL is still in its preliminary stages and it will be some time before we see mass adoption. So, it is our recommendation that everyone still carry their physical license in tandem with their DDL, allowing the DDL to serve as a supplement and not a replacement.


  3. What would be better is to be able to have our DL on our phone securely locked in the phone like our digital credit cards are. In the same location like the wallet app on iPhone.

    1. Hi Robert,
      Yes, you hit the nail on the head! That is exactly the concept – a securely stored and locked application that houses an encrypted file which represents your driver’s license or ID card in a digital format. This is very similar to mobile payment on your smart phone. The data that is presented is a digital representation of a physical credit card, but provides new benefits like greater convenience and higher security.

  4. I live in Erie CO and my Drivers license expires in April 2018 and I would like to sign up for the DDL. Do I have to do this at a specific DMV or do all now have this sign up stations? Can I do it in a different county / DMV if only at 1 or couple sites??

    1. Hi David,
      Thanks so much for your enthusiasm and interest in DDL! Unfortunately, at this time the pilot is still limited to a group of selected CO DMV participants, and enrollment at DMV locations is not yet being offered. We are working hard alongside our partners to ensure that DDL will be an option for any resident in the near future.

      In the meantime, please do stay engaged in our pilot activity and news. And feel free to drop us a line at – We would be happy to add your name to a wait-list of people who are interested in being part of a later phase of test participants.

      Thanks again,

  5. Is there a estimate time frame that this is expected to have its first full launch in a state?

    Also I live in Michigan, is there anything I can do to convince my state to join in on this? I really want to see this in my state.

    1. The product is already available for pilots. The last big milestone for mass market is the certification by major payment schemes as the Card Verification Method (CVM) is biometrics (today the EMV standards knows 4 different CVM methods: PIN online, PIN offline, signature and no CVM).

    2. Hi James,

      Thanks for your enthusiasm about the DDL! There are many steps to achieving a full-scale launch, with many different players involved – state government, the DMV, law enforcement, retailers, liquor control boards – just to name a few. We expect that at least one state will move from pilot mode to “live” mode by early 2019. That said, it will be a gradual adoption process, beginning with enrolling residents who would like to participate, like yourself.

      As far as Michigan’s specific timing, I unfortunately cannot say for certain since they are not part of our pilot. But if this is something you want to see happen, you should feel empowered to contact your local and state representatives to let your interest be known. I think once we see a few states go live, a tipping point will occur, and most other states will follow that path as well – so even if your state isn’t considering it now, they will likely do so in the coming years.

      Thanks again for your interest,

  6. When presenting a DDL to an LEO, does the officer take possession of the unlocked phone? This could open the door to privacy concerns and Fifth Amendment protections.

    1. Hi Carl,

      That’s definitely an important point to note! Our DDL solution is designed to ensure that you – as the DDL holder – never have to hand over your phone to perform a verification. Both for privacy and simple liability reasons, we feel the best way for DDL verification to occur is where the phone always remains in the possession of its owner. You are the one launching the application, verifying your PIN or fingerprint to access your DDL, triggering the information sharing, and maintaining control of your phone.

      To learn more about how our DDL works in the LE scenario in particular, check out my other blog post, and accompanying video clip which shows LE interaction with Wyoming Highway Patrol:

      Thanks for your thoughtful question!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *