by Scott McClallen
Sen. Peter Lucido introduced SB 454 that would allow digitizing drivers licenses on smartphones.
Lucido, R-Macomb County, said driver’s licenses should be accessible electronically, similar to drivers’ proof of insurance.
“If TSA is allowing us to go to airports and on airplanes using our cell phones as the ticket itself, don’t you think we should derive the same benefit driving our cars in our own state?” Lucido said.
Lucido stressed that this is a secure and optional feature and that anyone can choose to use “old-school” IDs.
The bill states the digital driver’s license would include the same information as a traditional driver’s license as well as a Quick Response Code or other type of bar code.
The state of Louisiana approved Enroc’s “LA Wallet” app in July 2018 that now provides digital drivers’ licenses to more than 358,000 people.
Envoc President and Founder Calvin Fabre told The Center Square that their technology focuses on security and accessibility.
Fabre said that many institutions previously kept photocopies of customers’ licenses.
“You’re not supposed to keep copies of people’s identities on file in your company; that’s how we get identity theft,” Fabre said. “So it’s really influencing the privacy of other industries.”
Fabre said his company met with the State Police and the Louisiana Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to create best practices, such as a no-touch feature requested by police who didn’t want to handle phones for liability reasons.
Faber said the technology helps businesses who employ drivers.
“One of the coolest things is that the ID also phones back to the DMV [Department of Motor Vehicles], the source, to make sure your license isn’t suspended,” Faber said. “It does that every four hours.”
If pulled over in a traffic stop, Louisiana police would request the physical image and may ask to see the interactive seal and driver’s license number on the back to ensure it’s not a fake license.
Fabre said their design fortifies privacy protections, unlike California’s digital license system in which police officers can pull a drivers’ license while sitting in their patrol vehicle.
“We don’t want that,” Fabre said. “We’re a Fourth Amendment state.”
Faber encouraged people to keep a physical license in case a retail store required one.
Chad Marlow, a senior counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union in New York, warned STATELINE of privacy concerns with digital driver’s licenses.
“These are shiny new things, and states are only talking about the upsides,” Marlow told STATELINE. “It is very important the public understand there are significant risks with digital driver’s licenses. I think it is irresponsible for states to offer them [without explaining those risks].”
The digital license would cost $5.99 and be available on iPhone and Android.
Lucido’s bill was referred to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure on Aug. 28.
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Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org. Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.