Bill would allow digital driver’s licenses in New Mexico

Bill would allow digital driver’s licenses in New Mexico

The Motor Vehicle Division says they just want an old law updated to make room for new technology.

SANTA FE, N.M. – We’re wrapping-up the first week of the 30-day legislative session in New Mexico, and state lawmakers have a lot to get done. They have to approve a new budget, debate new crime-fighting strategies, and consider new education investments.

But one state agency says they just want an old law updated to make room for new technology.

The Motor Vehicle Division wants you to be able to carry an official ID on your phone. The agency is asking state lawmakers to update New Mexico’s motor vehicle code to allow for digital driver’s licenses and identification cards. 

It would work the same way digital debit and credit cards work.  You would still have a physical ID card, but MVD leaders say New Mexicans could add a digital version to their phone or digital wallet for no extra cost.

No one will be required to have a digital ID, but officials say this is more about convenience.

“Our day-to-day lives are now lived on our phones. So it’ll be much convenient not to have your actual physical cards that can be lost, stolen, left behind, because our phones are our main source of communication, and for a variety of work. So we can just utilize our phone and show it, and it’ll be good to go,” said Htet Gonzales, Motor Vehicle Division director. 

Officials say eight other states including Colorado and Arizona already offer mobile licenses, and at least 10 more are considering it.

Some federal agencies like TSA have started accepting digital ID’s at some locations. Officials say more businesses are getting on board.

However, law enforcement agencies across New Mexico do not currently accept digital ID’s so if you get pulled over you’ll still need that physical card.

MVD officials expect that will change as digital ID’s and digital ID readers become more common.

“It’s gonna start with building the technological foundation within our own system securely. And after that, it’s making sure that it is accessible to as many New Mexicans as possible. So we’ll start pursuing different agreements with a variety of vendors so that we can make sure that it’s available in as many formats as possible,” said Gonzales. 

Democratic state Sen. Bobby Gonzales is expected to sponsor the proposal, which simply allows for electronic ID’s.

Officials say they will develop the interfaces needed to ensure digital security once it’s approved.