New Mexico ponders smart license

New Mexico is investigating the use of smart cards as the basis for its

state driver's license, something that is increasingly talked about but

not yet seriously considered by most states.

The New Mexico application has been under consideration since 1998,

said Keith Perry, deputy director of the state's Motor Vehicle Division,

though it has taken "some time to bubble to the surface." However, he thinks

a pilot program could be chosen by the end of this year.

A goal of the program would be to form public/private partnerships with

companies such as banks, retailers and medical providers who could provide

a range of other "value-added" applications, such as credit cards, renewable

cash accounts or medical information, for the card.

"That's one of the prime concepts for this," Perry said. "You'd get

a more assured buy-in from the license holders if the card could be used

for more than just the identification of a driver. It would help lower the

cost of the system for all of the partners, as well as decrease the fraudulent

use of licenses [as identification cards]."

But it would be "at least a couple of years" before the smart card license

could be widely used, he said, because it would take time to build smart

card readers, without which the chip-based cards are virtually useless.

The increasingly urgent motivation to find a more secure form of ID

has pushed driver's license smart cards closer to the spotlight. A smart

card could contain biometric information such as fingerprints, as well as

encrypted keys that only the verified license holder could unlock.

However, Perry said, although the events of Sept. 11 certainly heightened

interest in the security aspects of smart cards, the initial motivations

for New Mexico were several issues such as the need to reduce fraud.

Robinson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Ore. He can be reached


About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.


Stay Connected

FCW Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.