What is Driver License Verification?

Driver licenses are official documents, traditionally made of plastic and shaped like a credit card. These cards allow specific individuals to operate one or more types of vehicles, including motorcycles, cars, buses, or trucks. Driver license verification is the process of validating that the user of the card is the person to whom the license was issued.

Drivers licenses are often targeted by criminals, who use the information to steal the identity of the card holder. Criminals often use the information to perform fraudulent activities, using the name and information of the person to whom the license was issued. 

To prevent such criminal activities, authorities around the world make changes to cards designed to provide better security. There are several ways to validate the identity of the driver, including manual, electronic, and online driver license verification methods.

In this article, you will learn:

A Quick Guide to Driver License Documents

USA Drivers License

driver license verification

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

In the USA, each state or territory issues a driver license for its residents. Since there is no national ID, driver licenses are used as the main form of identification. While each state issues a different license, they all recognize each other’s licenses. However, driver licenses often vary between locations. 

Some states, for example, issue a new license when a person reaches the legal age (21). Driver licenses of underage people are vertical, and when they turn 21 the orientation changes to horizontal. This creates a visual difference between the licenses that helps distinguish between minors and adults. However, Arizona does not require this change.

In the USA, drivers licenses are commonly used to complete governmental and business transactions. Consequently, these cards are often stolen or faked. Governments have modified these cards over the years, adding features like barcodes, social security numbers, fingerprints, magnetic strips, and holograms, in an effort to reduce forgery and identity theft.

EU Drivers License

driver license verification

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

European driving licenses are issued by the 27 member states of the European Economic Area (EEA) as well as and the three EFTA member states—Liechtenstein, Norway, and Iceland. The driver licenses share common features—a credit card-style that includes a microchip and a photo. These cards replaced 110 types of plastic and paper cards previously used by over 300 million European drivers. 

The main goal of the new license is to reduce the risk of fraud. The new card can also help users of different languages to understand the information on the license. Each data field on the card is labelled with a number. On the back of the card there is a legend written in the language of the issuing authority.

A European driver license typically contains the following information:

  • Surname and other names
  • Date of issue and expiry
  • Issuing authority
  • Date of birth, place of birth, and address
  • Car license number
  • Signature of holder
  • Photograph of holder
  • License categories and first issuing date of the category
  • License restrictions coded as numbers

3 Driver License Verification Methods

Manual Driver License Check

An example of manual driver license checks is the legal requirement in many countries for owners of vehicle fleets to verify that their drivers have a valid license.

The fleet manager is typically responsible for verifying the validity of licenses as well as other features like watermarks and typeface. Managers must check the original license—facsimiles are prohibited. After a thorough inspection, it must be recorded in a legal and compliant manner. 

There are document templates available for recording driver license inspections. To complete the document, the fleet manager makes a copy of the original license and places it in the driver's file. Even if they manually verify the driver's license, they must ensure files are stored in a way that does not allow access to any third-party.

This inspection method may seem simple, but even with a small fleet of 20 or 30 vehicles, it can take significant time and effort. During the process, managers need to schedule appointments with individual drivers, organize inspection documents, and securely record and archive results.

Similarly, other procedures requiring physical inspection of driver licenses consume significant time and resources.

Electronic Driver License Check

To continue the example of fleet driver license checks, there are several options for checking driver licenses electronically. For example, company motorists scan their driver licenses at certain checkpoints or perform their own license checks through apps on smartphones or desktop computers. Available technologies vary widely in terms of safety standards and inspection procedures.

One legally sound option is to conduct an electronic driver license check. This requires that the card includes an RFID chip. A reader owned by the company can encrypt, decode and verify the driver license. Although this process is technically complex, it provides a high level of security. Drivers can verify licenses independently with no need for the involvement of other employees. This can save a lot of time, especially for large fleets.

Online Driver License Check

Online driver license check may not be valid for a fleet scenario, but can be used for many other circumstances in which driver licenses are used as an ID to verify identity.

Online driver license checks for identification purposes allow users to digitally verify their identity via a driver license. Here are a few types of transactions that commonly use driver license checks, especially in the USA:

  • Telecom providers registering new customers
  • Banks or organizations creating new accounts or accepting mortgage applications.
  • Real estate brokers signing rental agreements
  • Insurance companies issuing new policies
  • Companies hiring new employees to work remotely

Remote authentication can save time while creating a more efficient process because customers can complete applications anytime, anywhere.

ID verification technologies typically work by scanning identity documents, identifying the alphanumeric data in the document, and matching the name on the contract with the name on the ID. This helps ensure that only the named individual can view and sign the contract.

Driver License Data Compliance

The data on driver licenses is usually considered private, sensitive information. Depending on the issuing authority, a driver license may contain the driver’s name, birth date, address, and in the USA the card may also contain the social security number (SSN). 

Criminals can use this information to steal the identity of the driver, open lines of credit in their names and perform other fraudulent activities. Because of this, the majority of USA states have removed SSNs from driver licenses. However, the license still contains sensitive information that may help a persistent thief in getting the license owner’s SSN.

Security measures to protect driver license data

At minimum, driver license information should always be encrypted—both when the data is at rest and in transit. Access management systems should control access to servers storing driver license images, granting access only to authorized parties with the least privileged principle enforced.

Developers should also participate in overall efforts to protect driver license information. For example, making sure the data is stored only on hardened databases, and ensuring websites accepting driver license information are protected against common web application attacks.

Compliance requirements

When possible, companies should avoid storing driver license images. Some regulations, like Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), which require certain measures to be taken when storing images or prohibiting the storage of driver license images altogether. 

When handling driver license numbers, companies should consult with the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), which offers suggestions and information about policies that determine how sensitive customer information should be handled.

Using third-party providers

A good way to avoid the risks and complexities involved in storing driver license information is to use a third-party service for driver license verification, which is compliant with the relevant regulations and standards. This way, the third-party service stores driver license information and takes responsibility for the relevant security measures.

Drivers License Verification with BlueCheck

BlueCheck’s industry leading identity verification infrastructure enables merchants to grow their business faster. Serving a wide variety of industries, our solutions are custom tailored to the unique needs of our customers, including PACT Act and eCommerce compliant offerings. 

Schedule a call with a BlueCheck specialist to learn more about our Age & ID Verification solutions. Ask about price savings when bundled with Payment Processing services.