Arizona Capitol

Your Arizona Driver's License Could Be Stored Someday on Your Smartphone

In the future, your Arizona driver's license could be kept in an app on your smartphone.

A bill proposed by Republican Senator Jeff Dial would allow the testing and implementation of an electronic driver's license system, which is under development already in Iowa.

"I think government shouldn't be in the way," Dial tells New Times. "Governments should try to be customer-friendly."

Arizona was one of the first states to allow drivers to show proof of insurance on a smartphone thanks to a bill proposed by Dial three years ago. He had actually proposed electronic driver's licenses at that time, but says he was told by the state Department of Transportation that he was thinking ahead of the available technology.

"We were supposed to be the first ones working on it," he says.

With documents like airplane tickets and car insurance going on smartphones, and with new mobile-payment options also available, perhaps phones are in the process of replacing wallets.

That's essentially the reasoning outlined by an executive of MorphoTrust, the company developing the technology for Iowa, in a trade publication called Security Document World:

"Your mobile device is really becoming your digital wallet, and so it makes perfect sense that all the identity documents that you usually carry in your wallet -- whether a driver's licence, health or car insurance card -- will also now be stored there.
MorphoTrust issues the physical licenses for 42 states, including Arizona, so this could become a widespread practice.

However, news reports of the pilot program in Iowa raise several concerns, mostly regarding a person presenting his or her phone to a police officer. The issue is addressed in the initial version of the Arizona bill, Senate Bill 1237.

The bill's text says that presenting an electronic driver's license would not constitute consent for a police officer to access other contents of the phone or wireless device.

Dial also has introduced a separate, unrelated bill that would prevent a person from having to unlock a smartphone or similar device if it's locked with a "biometric identifier," such as a fingerprint, unless police obtain a warrant.

Still more potential problems have been raised, such as general security of the app, or what happens when you get pulled over with a phone that has a dead battery.

Dial told us about some of the security features a vendor has touted to make this work. He added that a pilot program could be up and running in Arizona in about a year and a half, and could actually be fully implemented in three years.

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley