A Birthday Present That Keeps on Giving

I turned 74 years old in mid-February. Not a big deal. I have a birthday every year. But this time it turned out to be special in an unusual way.

My Nevada Driver License expired on my birthday. Again, not a big deal. It always expires on a birthday, every three or four years. But this time it turned out to be special in an unusual way.

In early January I received a W2G and had to show ID. Again, not a big deal. (Okay. I’ll stop repeating this phrase over and over again.) The floorman remarked that my expiration date was approaching. I thanked him for bringing this to my attention, and when I got home, I went to the DMV website to renew the license.

Except I couldn’t do it. Nevada has a law that says if you’re more than 70 years old, you must renew your license in person and cannot do it remotely. Okay. It’s less convenient for me, but among life’s problems it’s not that big. I clicked on the appropriate button to make a DMV appointment. It turned out that the next available appointment for me is in late April, more than two months after my license had expired.  

This, of course, could be a problem for me. While I don’t expect to get a ticket that would require me to show my Driver License, I do expect to get W2Gs. If I had to go to the DMV without an appointment, on Saturdays they have a first-come-first-served policy. I could wait a few (or more) hours and finally get things taken care of, but I wanted to avoid standing in line outside in the wintertime if I could. 

Fortunately, I saw on the website a tab that said, “Senior Driver License Extension.” I clicked on it and came to a letter that said, “In an effort to further assist our customers 65 years of age and older, the DMV has issued an automatic 1-year extension of a driver license (non-commercial and commercial) held by these individuals.” Further, it instructed me to print off that letter and show it to anyone who believed my license had expired. So, I did.

Two days after my birthday, I hit a W2G and the slot shift manager told me that with my expired license, I wouldn’t be able to get paid until I provided them with an unexpired ID. I showed him the letter and told him he could take a picture of it if he liked but I would like it back. I told him he could find a copy of that letter on the website www.dmvnv.com if he needed to verify its authenticity. This casino also had Internet access, so I could pull up the letter on my iPhone if necessary. He went away to think about it.

I ended up getting paid after another few minutes. This was the first time this slot shift manager had encountered the DMV extension letter, which is surprising given the letter on the DMV site was dated July 2020. If they didn’t accept this letter, I would have returned to the casino with my unexpired passport rather than stand in line at the DMV, but fortunately it didn’t come to that. At least this time.

As I write this, I haven’t been required to show the letter a second time because, since my birthday, I’ve not hit W2Gs anywhere else that required me to show ID. (At places where I’m a regular, they don’t make me show my ID every time.) But I will. And sooner or later, someone who isn’t aware of this one-year extension for seniors will reject my ID until I produce the letter again. Which I will do. I don’t expect any trouble with the slot departments. These all have people in charge who have been promoted several times and are authorized to make reasonable decisions. Agreeing with a document provided by the state government strikes me as a reasonable decision.

Sometimes, however, I need to show ID to cashiers at various casino restaurants and stores in order to use comps or points. These people may or may not be able to make the appropriate decision. Often, they are told to do things by the book. Period. We’ll see. If this happens, I’ll calmly explain that I’ll escalate this as high as I have to and eventually, they’ll have to accept the ID. I’ll quietly say that it’ll be easier on them if they do it my way the first time, which may or may not work. (Some people in my position would yell and scream like this was a Federal case, but I haven’t found that this action works well for me.)

I keep this letter folded up in my wallet. It is just on printer paper and every time I unfold it and then refold it; it becomes a little more likely to fall apart. But if I need to print another copy, I can do that.

I don’t know if Nevada is the only state with this policy or not. Perhaps in some places everybody, not just seniors, gets such an extension. But if you have a license close to expiring and you can’t renew your license online, it’s certainly worth checking out. 

Bonnie and I were treated to dinner at Circa a week after my birthday. Circa has a policy of scanning your ID when you arrive on property, either by foot from the Fremont Street Experience, or when you arrive through their parking garage. (The entrance off of Main goes through the parking garage checkpoint.) 

They don’t scan the front of your Driver License, but rather the bar code on the back. Surely the expiration date is part of that bar code. And if a computer is doing the checking, there’s no chance that it will miss the expiration date. But, curiously, I was waved through as though my license had not expired. On the way there, Bonnie and I were both sure that I would be pulled aside and would have to show the letter and explain things. But that didn’t happen.

My best guess is that it’s a simple matter of computer programming to include the conditions of 1) Nevada Driver License, 2) at least 65 years of age, and 3) license expired by less than one year. If these conditions are met, the ID is accepted as valid! Since these scanners scan thousands of Driver Licenses a day, and the policy has been in effect since July 2020, surely these conditions have been encountered a number of times.  So, the IT department was tasked with programming a workaround.

Note: Until I wrote this article, I always called it a Driver’s License, or maybe a Drivers’ License, but never a Driver License. I checked the Nevada DMV website to verify that I was getting the apostrophe in the right place and noticed the correct terminology. Truthfully, I was quite surprised that I had always mispronounced the term.


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