Illinois exploring digital driver's licenses

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - The state of Illinois is exploring whether to implement digital driver's licenses accessed through a smartphone app.

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White's office announced that it's looking for a company to help determine whether the state should allow the cellphone-based licenses. The app with the license would have the same information as what's found on a regular plastic driver's license.

White's office is seeking bids from companies to figure out the cost and feasibility of digital driver's license program. Answers sought include ones about the pricing structure used by a vendor and whether police would be able to access verification information.

"This is a preliminary fact-finding process for the purpose of obtaining information of new and innovative services," an announcement from White's office says.

Bids sought by White's office follow formation of a special committee by Illinois lawmakers earlier this year to look into digital driver's licenses. The panel was organized in an effort to bring the state in line with others considering electronic licenses.

The special committee is led by state Rep. Karen McConnaughay, R-St. Charles. She said Illinois should be ready for change.

"You have a whole new generation that doesn't want to carry a wallet," she said.

Hiring a consultant, McConnaughay said, could help with some issues that have come up in meetings.

"The more questions you ask the more you realize that there's a lot more that goes into creating a paperless driver's license system," McConnaughay said.

Legal questions about electronic driver's licenses have come up, the Springfield bureau of Lee Enterprises newspapers reports. They include questions about the security of the information and implications of handing a police office a phone with so much personal info.

Police are also concerned about what would happen if officers drop phones or if an incriminating text pops up while looking at a license.

Companies are scheduled to present to the state in February.

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