New Mexico ponders smart licenses

New Mexico is investigating the use of smart cards as the basis for its state driver's licenses, something that is increasingly talked about but not yet seriously considered by most states.

A smart card could contain biometric information such as fingerprints, as well as encrypted keys that only the verified license holder could unlock.

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 for the card, such as credit cards, renewable cash accounts or medical information.

But it would be "at least a couple of years" before the smart card license could be widely used, said Keith Perry, deputy director of the state's Motor Vehicle Division, because it would take time to build smart card readers, without which the chip-based cards are virtually useless.

About the Author

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

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