There are people all over the country that are breaking the law and are probably oblivious of the infraction.

This came as a complete surprise to me, but apparently it is illegal in numerous states to smile in your driver's license identification picture. Those states include:

  • Arkansas
  • Indiana
  • Nevada
  • Virginia

Idaho and our neighbors in Colorado are also a lot more strict on the smiling (no cheesing or big smiles), although it hasn't been officially banned... yet.

The reason behind the lack of smiles stems from the Real ID Act, which is a federally mandated policy. Here's the concise version:

The Real ID Act of 2005 (enacted May 11, 2005), is an Act of Congress that modifies U.S. federal law pertaining to security, authentication and issuance procedures standards for state drivers' licenses and identity documents, as well as various immigration issues pertaining to terrorism.

In layman's terms, smiling too hard can mess up facial recognition software used to identify terrorists.

So what does this mean for Wyoming? As of right now, it is not illegal in Wyoming to smile in your photo, but after speaking to a representative in the driver's license department of WYDOT, it is frowned upon (see what I did there?).

So there you have it fellow Wyomingites. We are free to continue to smile in our often horrible license photos.