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California drivers can now carry their license on their phone as part of DMV’s pilot program

Californians can now show their driver’s licenses from their cellphones using the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles’ pilot program.

According to the DMV, the mobile driver’s license, also called MDL, has launched in a pilot program but is limited to 1.5 million Californians.

“The MDL is not meant to replace the physical driver’s license, but gives Californians another convenient option for identity verification,” Anita Gore, a spokeswoman for the DMV told The Sacramento Bee in a July story.

The MDL is currently only being accepted as a form of identification at select stores in California and several airports across the country. Only three California airports are using this program, according to the Transportation Security Administration: San Francisco International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport and San Jose Mineta International Airport.

The mobile identification will help travelers get through security and TSA PreCheck at the airports, according to the DMV.

The DMV advises people to still carry their physical driver’s license or ID as law enforcement, state government agencies and businesses aren’t accepting them yet.

How to sign up

Individuals can sign up for free by downloading the CA DMV Wallet app via Apple’s App Store or the Google Play store for Android phones.

You’ll need a relatively new smartphone to download the CA DMV Wallet app. The agency requires an iPhone 6 with iOS 13 and newer or an Android 7 or newer.

Once you have the app, you can enroll remotely by signing in with your DMV account, inputting your email and phone number, and scanning the front and back of your driver’s license.

You’ll also have to verify your identity by taking a photo called a “Liveness Check.” Afterwards, you should receive notification that your MDL is ready in the app.

The California DMV’s process for getting a mobile driver’s license or MDL can be completed in minutes. The app is available for iPhone and Android operating systems.
The California DMV’s process for getting a mobile driver’s license or MDL can be completed in minutes. The app is available for iPhone and Android operating systems.

Can I use it to buy alcohol?

Once you have an MDL, you can activate the “TruAge” option so that you can use the digital license to buy age-restricted items.

Under the license on the app’s homepage, there’s a “Share My Age” tab. Then, click “Verify using TruAge” and it’ll automatically confirm your age.

Afterward, you’ll get a single-use QR Code to scan for your purchases.

But this is currently only available at some convenience stores in California.

According to the DMV, this includes the following Circle K stores in the Sacramento area:

  • 730 29th St., Sacramento

  • 5520 Dudley Blvd., McClellan

  • 3050 Zinfandel Drive, Rancho Cordova

  • 9616 West Taron Drive, Elk Grove

  • 8830 E. Stockton Blvd., Elk Grove

You can find other stores that use the digital age verification by searching your ZIP code.