Extreme makeover: Driver's licenses get new look
Soon to be gone are the days of walking out of one of the Department of Motor Vehicles 74 offices holding the latest horrible photo on a driver's license that you'll be staring at the next eight or more years.
In the name of security, the DMV will mail licenses and ID cards from one central location in Danville. Even more retro, the new high-tech licenses are in black and white.
"It's way more secure," says DMV spokeswoman Melanie Stokes. "Instead of 74 license machines and hundreds of employees touching the licenses, one printing facility in Danville with 15 employees will produce all the cards."
In the past five years, 29 DMV employees have been arrested for fraud, including one office manager who was bribed with doughnuts and pastries, confirms Stokes.
The department calls the new method state of the art– even though it uses black-and-white photos. That's so laser technology can engrave the body of the card, much like money. The new documents still use holography for a state seal visible under black light, and add a second smaller photo of the legal, card-carrying citizen that can be seen from the back of the card.
Is the U.S. mail a secure way to deliver such important identification? "Right now we mail a quarter-million licenses a year," says Stokes. "We have very minimal returns."
The Charlottesville office shuts down May 27-28 for training and to install new equipment and software. When it re-opens May 29, those needing new or renewed licenses will be sent home with a temporary driving permit that cannot be used for identification, although re-newers can keep their old licenses. The real deal should be in the mail within three days, but as Stokes notes, "Mail deliveries vary."
The DMV seems pretty confident that teens looking to fool grocery clerks and bartenders into selling them alcohol by using fake IDs will have a more difficult time creating forgeries.
Stokes quotes the DMV commissioner, who declared: "It would take the bad guys a lab with $100,000 worth of equipment to counterfeit or tamper with these."