Wyoming digital driver's license proposal takes first step in the Legislature - Casper, WY Oil City News
Oil City News Logo

Wyoming digital driver’s license proposal takes first step in the Legislature

A sample Wyoming driver’s license. (WYDOT)

CASPER, Wyo. — The Wyoming House of Representatives voted on consent to introduce a bill that would create a digital driver’s license in the state during their first floor session of the 2020 budget session.

During budget sessions, at least two-thirds of the House or Senate must approve a bill for introduction. These bills are referred to a committee who will vote on the legislation before it could return to the House for debate.

While Wyoming will continue to rely on physical driver’s licenses, the bill would create digital driver’s licenses and IDs if passed.

Article continues below...

“‘Digital driver’s license’ means a secure electronic representation of a physical driver’s license that is stored on the driver’s portable electronic device and may be viewed or verified by a person to whom access is allowed,” the proposed legislation reads. “A digital driver’s license may be used in lieu of a physical driver’s license and is optional to purchase and supplemental to a physical driver’s license.”

The cost of the digital driver’s license would be $20 in addition to the cost of a physical license.

A digital identification card would cost $10 in addition to $10 for a physical identification card.

“No digital driver’s license shall be issued unless the applicant holds the corresponding physical driver’s license or unless the corresponding physical driver’s license is issued simultaneously,” the proposed bill adds. “The department may digitally cancel, suspend or revalidate a digital driver’s license on the occasions that a physical driver’s license would be taken possession of, cancelled, suspended, returned or reinstated, as appropriate.”

In cases where a law enforcement officer requires a citizen to show their identification, the bill attempts to protect people’s privacy if they are showing a digital license.

“For purposes of this section ‘display’ of a digital driver’s license means that a licensee may provide access to the digital driver’s license on the licensee’s portable electronic device,” the proposed bill states. “No law enforcement or judicial officer demanding display of a licensee’s digital driver’s license for any licensing or identification verification purpose shall take custody of the licensee’s portable electronic device.”

“Display of a digital driver’s license shall not serve as consent to search the driver’s portable electronic device.”

If someone’s license were to be revoked, that would mean surrendering the physical driver’s license and cancelling the digital license.

The bill is sponsored by the Joint Transportation, Highways & Military Affairs Interim Committee.

If passed into law, the creation of the digital licenses is expected to generate an additional $640,000 per year beginning in fiscal year 2021 for the state’s highway fund.

That is assuming that an average of 160,000 cards are created per year and that 20-30% of the Wyoming population participates in the program.

Committees which have been assigned these bills will vote to “pass,” “do not pass” or “pass with amendments.”

Bills which make it out of committee then return to the full House for consideration. The House then must approve a bill on three readings before it is sent to the Senate.

If the Senate passes the bill with no amendments, the bill is sent to the governor’s desk for consideration. If they tack on amendments, then the bill is assigned to the Joint Conference Committee to reconcile differences.

If that committee can reach a consensus, the bill is sent to the governor who can sign or veto the bill. The House and Senate are able to override a veto with a two-thirds majority vote.