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Texas driver’s license on your phone could become reality if lawmakers pass bill

HB 273 would direct the Department of Public Safety to launch a pilot program for creating a digital identification system.

AUSTIN, Texas — Smartphones are already used for things like credit cards or airline boarding passes. Now, a Texas lawmaker is proposing a bill that would enable your smartphone to house your driver’s license, as well.

Democratic State Rep. Terry Canales (TX-40) filed HB 273, which would direct the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) to create a pilot program for issuing digital identification.

The bill will be heard in the House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee meeting on Thursday morning.

“This is necessary because it's the future and we've got to prepare for the future. And in doing so, we've got to embrace the technology that exists and that we're all accustomed to using,” Canales said. “The reality is we are behind, and Texas should be leading the way. We've got Austin, Texas, as one of the tech capitals of the world. And the reality is we should at least have had a pilot going.”

Rep. Canales’ office said it’s an issue he’s been working on for the last eight years. A bill filed by Rep. Canales in 2019 on the same issue passed the State House, but didn’t advance further.

Last session, Rep. Canales passed legislation that enabled Texans to have their hunting and fishing licenses on their phones, he said.

Mobile driver’s licenses are something other states are already doing, as well.

In Louisiana, an app that launched in 2018 for digital identification was the first fully functioning app of its kind in the U.S., according to the Louisiana governor’s office.

The Texas pilot program, if approved by lawmakers, would require that the technology work regardless of the wireless connectivity on the device.

If approved, DPS would have to start the pilot program by Feb. 1, 2022. A report with the results of the pilot program would be due within 180 days, according to the bill.

WATCH: Texas driver’s license on your phone could become reality if lawmakers pass bill


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