ATLANTA — Georgia motorists soon could whip out a cellphone picture of their driver’s license when stopped by police instead of carrying the plastic version.
That could be a plus for people who prefer not to carry a billfold or purse that could be stolen or mar the silhouette of tight jeans. It also recognizes that cellphones soon will be used for purchases, as they already are in other countries, eliminating the need for a pocketful of cash and credit cards.
The Nathan Deal administration is backing Senate Bill 323 in response to public requests. It’s meant to be especially helpful during the wait for the Department of Driver Services to send by mail the traditional, wallet version of a license, according to Sen. Hunter Hill, R-Smyrna, the sponsor of the bill.
“They are one of our best customer-service state agencies,” said Hill, who used to serve on the department’s board of directors. “They are constantly operating every day and getting feedback from their public.”
Current law already permits use of paper receipts issued by the department. Hill’s bill adds to that an electronic image of the receipt or a cellphone containing a photo of the front and back of the actual license.
“The presentation of such image on an electronic telecommunications device shall not be deemed as consent to access any other information contained on such devise for any other purposes,” the bill states, meaning embarrassing selfies and snarky text messages would remain private.
While the point of the change was the convenience of drivers when awaiting a new, renewed or reinstated license, Hill acknowledges it would work any time.
“When 99 percent of the population is law-abiding citizens, we need to create laws ... that allow for some flexibility for our customers,” he said.
The photos would still be subject to verification by police officers accessing the Georgia Crime Information Center’s database. Since that access is limited to law enforcement, Hill doesn’t see the cellphone pictures serving as identification for bars and restaurants scouting out underage alcohol customers or for voting.
“This is not a provision that would make sense for voting,” he said.