E-Driver Licenses May Become a Possibility with New Law

Representative Craig Hall (Republican - West Valley City)
Representative Craig Hall (Republican – West Valley City)

Ever dreamed of having an electronic driver’s license? You may get your wish soon. Representative Craig Hall (Republican – West Valley City) presented a bill Tuesday that would possibly help bring that idea closer to reality.

HB 227 – Electronic Driver License Amendments requires the Department of Public Safety and Department of Technology Services (DTS) to perform a study regarding the viability of electronic driver’s licenses.

Findings will be presented to the Transportation Interim Committee prior to September of this year, according to the bill.

Hall planned on proposing a bill at the October interim session last year that would have set a deadline for the Driver License Division to offer electronic licenses. However, he ultimately decided against it. “With several discussions with the driver license division and DTS, I have come to the conclusion that we’re not quite there technologically,” Hall told the committee.

Hall noted that his idea builds on legislation passed in 2013, HB 295 – Electronic Proof of Owner’s or Operator’s Security, which was sponsored by former Representative Derek Brown (Republican – Cottonwood Heights) and allows drivers to present proof of insurance using a mobile electronic device.

Hall stressed that electronic licenses will be completely optional. “This is not going to be forced upon the citizens of Utah, but for those individuals who want that option, want their driver’s license to be on their phone, we’re hoping to be able to present that option.”

Several issues will be addressed in the study, including acceptance by businesses and other states, possible privacy concerns, and deciding what happens if your smartphone battery dies.

Hall pointed out that electronic licenses may actually be safer than a plastic card by requiring a PIN or biometrics (such as a fingerprint) in order to gain access.

The committee unanimously voted to recommend HB 227. A subsequent motion to place the bill on the consent calendar failed.

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