Goodbye, wallets! Utah lawmaker wants to see electronic driver licenses in the state

(Leah Hogsten | Tribune file photo) In a long photographic exposure, car and bus taillights and headlights draw long red and white lights during evening traffic patterns along State Street, Jan. 10, 2019. Lawmakers this year are considering a bill to legalize electronic drivers' licenses in the state.

In as little as two years, Utah drivers could be leaving the hard copy of their state-issued licenses at home in lieu of a digital version on their mobile devices.

A state Senate committee voted unanimously on Wednesday for SB100, which legalizes electronic licenses and directs the state’s Driver License Division to study the costs, process and vendors needed for producing a distributing digital replicas.

“It doesn’t replace the physical copy of your driver’s license," said Sen. Lincoln Fillmore, R-South Jordan, the bill’s sponsor. The old version "you would still need in order to get on an airplane.”

Fillmore said his bill stems from thinking about the items Utahns carry with them in modern society. Mobile-based payment systems like Apple Pay have increasingly replaced cash and credit cards, he said.

“The reason, basically, to carry a wallet these days is because you have to have a driver’s license to drive,” Fillmore said.

He said digital technologies could also potentially reduce fraud, with electronic licenses less susceptible to forgery than physical, printed cards.

His bill creates a two-year timeline for implementation, allowing for additional legislation in 2020 to address the costs or any concerns that may arise from the Driver License Division’s study of the issue and available technology.

Committee debate on the bill was minimal on Wednesday, with one lawmaker commending Fillmore for starting with fact-finding before a mandate to state agencies. Another committee member, Lehi Republican Sen. Jacob Anderegg, said only “thank you” to Fillmore as his comment on the bill.