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Digital Driver's License Pilot Comes to Wyoming

Three other states and the District of Columbia are testing a program that will provide digital IDs to around 100 citizens.

(TNS) -- CHEYENNE – Wyoming is joining three other states and the District of Columbia in a pilot program for digital driver’s licenses.

The Cowboy State will join Idaho, Colorado, Maryland and Washington, D.C., in a test drive of digital driver’s licenses, or DDLs, developed by tech security company Gemalto.

The digital IDs will only be available to about 100 people statewide within the Wyoming Department of Transportation and Wyoming Highway Patrol, said Debbie Trojovsky, WYDOT’s program manager for driver services.

But WYDOT and Gemalto will be holding events later this fall for other people interested in trying the app and giving feedback.

“I know this is something that is for the future,” Trojovsky said. “To learn how this is all going to work is going to be great for Wyoming.”

The digital IDs can be accessed through an app downloaded to an iPhone or Android smartphone.

The app isn’t connected to the Internet, so there’s virtually no risk of someone tracking a user’s whereabouts or personal information based on when they open the license, said Steve Purdy, Gemalto’s vice president of state government programs.

In order to enter the app, people have to enter a five-digit password or use fingerprint identification.

The DDLs also include an age identification feature that would eliminate the need to show a bar or casino an entire driver’s license containing a bunch of personal information.

“All it does is show your photo and whether or not you’re 21,” Purdy said.

The app also features a digital ID that looks much like a driver’s license. It could be used for regular law enforcement purposes.

Wyoming is joining the pilot about one year into the process and will participate for about a year.

It’s too early to tell whether the state will issue the DDLs down the road, Trojovsky said. But it likely won’t replace physical driver’s licenses any time soon.

“I don’t think it’s ever going to replace (a physical ID card) … you have some folks who don’t have a cellphone, so we’re always going to have a hard card in the future if we do move forward with a DDL,” Trojovsky said.

It’s also unclear how much it would cost to install the technology in motor vehicle licensing offices and whether a new law would be necessary to allow digital ID cards.

Some Wyoming residents say it could be a good option.

“It’d be one less piece of paper to carry,” said Tom Elsberry, who was at the local DMV office Wednesday.

Elsberry, 66, said it would be nice if the app also could hold other documents, such as a concealed weapon permit, which Purdy said could be a possibility down the road.

But Kayla Sharp, 30, said she’ll stick to a physical ID card.

“I’m not a technology person,” she said. “I have a hard time remembering my password to get into my phone.”

Purdy said Gemalto spent more than three years traveling to several states and Canadian provinces to pitch the idea and get feedback.

At first, Purdy said, the market research feedback was neutral, but it got better as people realized that the app is secure and easy to use.

The money for development and the pilot program comes from a two-year grant from the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Gemalto currently produces Wyoming’s driver’s licenses and does work with fingerprint identity services, verifying official documents and producing, manufacturing and issuing driver’s licenses and ID cards throughout the U.S. and Canada.

©2017 Wyoming Tribune-Eagle (Cheyenne, Wyo.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.