- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 4, 2015

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - A state legislator is proposing adding one more must-have app for our ubiquitous smart phones: A program that would contain a person’s electronic driver’s license.

Rep. Craig Hall, a West Valley City Republican, is working on legislation that would allow the state to issue phone-based licenses for those who want them, reported The Salt Lake Tribune (http://bit.ly/1WuEy64 ). The app could be used instead of or in addition to the traditional plastic cards.

Hall acknowledged that there are potential problems but said some drivers will want the option to have a digital license.

“So much of our lives is on our phones: our communication, our finances, our news, our documents, our travel arrangements,” he said during a presentation to the legislature’s Transportation Interim Committee.

The electronic document could look similar to its plastic alternative, with a photo, address and bar code, said Hall. And he said a digital license could be instantly updated using an app if the user needs to, for example, change an address.

The electronic license might also be more secure than physical cards if it requires a PIN or biometrics, he said.

Several other states are discussing or developing similar pilot programs, including Iowa, Arizona and Delaware, and Hall said the Utah Driver License Division was already exploring the idea.

But Hall can also list off the challenges of such a system, such as preventing counterfeiting.

The American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators is working on methods for preventing counterfeiting of electronic licenses, but they are early in the process, according to Driver License Division Director Clark Caras.

Another issue: securing other information on the phone while a police officer looks at the license.

“Does everyone feel comfortable giving their phone to a police officer to take back to their police car?” asked Hall. “Could an officer snoop around in other parts of your phone? This is a legitimate concern.”

But there are solutions, he argued. Officers could simply write down the driver license number or scan it while the driver watches. Or the apps could be designed to lock the phone until the owner enters a code.

A digital license might not be recognized by other jurisdictions or at places like bars and airports.

Provo Republican Rep. Dean Sanpei said that with all those problems, it might make more sense to let another state work out the bugs first.

“When you’re the first to build it, there’s all kinds of complications,” he said.

Hall said there’s no rush to be first, but added, “I want to present it as an option, once we get everything worked out.”

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Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune, http://www.sltrib.com

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