Illinois Politics

Mobile driver's licenses, ID cards could come to Illinois after House passes bill

The bill still needs to be approved by the Senate

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A bill that would pave the way for Illinois residents to have access to electronic driver’s licenses and identification cards has passed the House, and will now head to the state’s Senate.

The bill, introduced by State Rep. Kam Buckner, passed the House unanimously on Monday, bringing it one step closer to implementation.

Earlier this year, Illinois Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias expressed his support for the legislation, saying mobile identification is an important step in the process of modernizing his office.

“This is the future,” he told The Pentagraph. It’s all part of the modernization of the office.”

Under provisions of the bill, all Illinois residents eligible to receiver a driver’s license or an identification card would be eligible to obtain those documents in an electronic format, and would be able to use them in any situation calling for identification.

At least 10 other states already offer mobile driver’s licenses, according to the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators. Their guidelines would be used to help guide Illinois' efforts to establish the framework for issuing mobile licenses, according to the bill.

Some groups, including the ACLU, have expressed concerns about the use of mobile identification documents, citing fears that law enforcement could search a person’s phone without proper consent. The bill in Illinois would explicitly prohibit law enforcement officers from searching through a phone’s contents after viewing the mobile identification card, according to the legislation.

In addition, no public or private entity will be permitted to establish policies that require electronic identification instead of physical identification cards.

Finally, law enforcement officials will be “immune from liability” resulting from damage to a phone, except in cases of willful misconduct, according to the bill.

As for whether or not there will be a cost involved, the proposed bill says that the fee to install the application “shall not exceed $6.”  

The legislation calls for the Secretary of State’s Office to work through the process of obtaining and displaying the cards, likely paving the way for a mobile app to properly display identification.

According to officials with the TSA, the agency does accept mobile identification at airports, but still encourages fliers to carry physical ID cards as well.

As for REAL ID-compliant cards, mobile identification is also able to be used in those situations, but again officials urge residents to bring physical copies of their identification in the event of any issues.

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