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"Enhanced" Driver's License Bill Passes Committee In Ohio House

 
Posted May 20th, 2014 @ 6:03pm by Matt Bruning

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSPD) -- A bill to create an "enhanced" drivers license is getting a vote before a House committee this afternoon.

The new licenses would include a radio frequency identity chip, known as RFID. It could be scanned from up to 30 feet away and allow people to more quickly cross the border at Canada or Mexico without having to present a passport or other paperwork.

"This cost is likely $25 over the standard drivers license so economically this makes a lot of sense," said State Rep. Rex Damschroder, a Fremont Republican who introduced the bill.

He says it's being used in five other states so far, including Michigan where usage is up 48 percent, and is a big help to truckers who often have to drive across the border. He also sees it being helpful to people who boat on Lake Erie.

"You don't want to get your passport soaked. This is just a plastic card that you're already carrying in your pocket," he said.

The bill isn't without its opponents. They include the American Civil Liberties Union which has a couple of concerns.

"We have concerns about how the federal government is going to use this information and technology," said Gary Daniels with the ACLU of Ohio.

He says the RFID chips could be tracked by the government or hacked by identity thieves.

"Anybody who has the money and the inclination can buy an RFID reader online," he said.

Daniels notes the U.S. Dept of Homeland Security has even rejected using the technology.

Damschroder points out that the program is voluntary if privacy is a concern. He's also heard of no security issues in the other states that use it.

"I don't anticipate any problem for us," he said.

If the bill is approved by the General Assembly and signed into law, Damschroder doesn't expect the enhanced licenses to be available until sometime in 2016.

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