Soon, Coloradans Will Be Able To Flash Their ‘Digital Licenses’ To Buy Booze And Use State Services

A screencap from a promotional video showing a bar outfitted with a myColorado digital ID sticker.

Coloradans won't have to pull out their driver's licenses when they buy alcohol at certain retailers or interact with state agencies in the near future.

Instead, they'll be able to prove their age and identity with a secure smartphone app. Gov. Jared Polis signed an executive order Wednesday that would make Colorado one of the first states in the country to offer digital identification cards.

“A lot of people do everything in life now on their phone … and yet there’s still kind of this obsolete legacy of having to carry a bunch of plastic around,” Polis said at a news conference.

Starting on Dec. 1, residents will be able to use the myColorado smartphone app to create and display digital state IDs. The first service to accept the digital cards will be the driver’s license renewal desks at the DMV. It later could be expanded to voting centers and other services.

Alcohol and lottery ticket retailers also can choose to accept the IDs starting now, a spokesperson said. Vendors can visually check the app, or they can use an ID scanner to check its validity. The state hasn’t announced any participating retailers yet.

And, by 2021, Colorado residents might be allowed to completely replace their plastic licenses, at least for driving. Coordinating with federal agencies at places like airports may be significantly further down the road.

“We’re hoping to be able to tell folks to ditch the plastic in about a year,” the governor said. “All the early adopters out there, start using this.”

But the state will always issue and accept physical cards, he added.

The Colorado app will work even if the phone doesn’t have data service, and it’s compatible with most phones and carriers. Displaying the digital ID will require a user’s PIN or biometrics, such as a fingerprint.

Colorado previously worked with the company Gemalto and several other state governments to pilot the digital technology. Separately, Louisiana began issuing digital driver’s licenses last summer.

Eventually, they could be accepted by federal authorities, including TSA agents at the airport, and by other states under the Real ID standards.

The state’s digital IDs will be free.

Editor's Note: This article has been updated to reflect that Colorado is no longer working with Gemalto on digital licenses.