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Driver's License or Mugshot?

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Angela Chee: Like we don't already look bad enough in our driver's license photo -- now four states are adopting a "no smile" policy for your driver's license, and more could follow.

bad drivers license photo

"Neutral facial expressions" are required at Departments of Motor Vehicles (DMVs) in Arkansas, Indiana, Nevada, and Virginia. That means you can't smile. Great, that's all I need -- an ugly, mean-looking photo of myself that has my birthdate on it in my wallet.

They are trying to cut down on fake IDs and license fraud. So these DMVs have installed high-tech software that compares license photos. If a new photo matches an existing one, the software sends an alarm that someone may be trying to assume another's identity, but the technology is flawed. Face-recognition software can fail if the facial expressions differ in each photo. They say dull expressions "make the comparison process more accurate."

I get the security reason, but seriously, will it work? Do they have to hire "the smile police"? I can picture it now. Photographer: "I'm sorry, ma'am, I said no smiling!"

Photographer: "I'm serious this time, wipe that grin off your face."

How many retakes will they do? And if they are comparing photos, what if my last photo had me smiling? Also, does that mean everyone has to have a mugshot on file, before the technology will really work? How long will that take? I usually just renew by mail anyway. I haven't taken a new photo in years.

And what if the other states never follow suit? So we'll have some happy states and some sad states. That doesn't seem fair.

You know what made me laugh even more? In the article I read, the Arkansas Driver Services Chief said, "They may allow slight smiles, you just can't grin really large." Great, now it's subjective. Well, for now I'm holding onto my old license and hoping I won't have to take a new photo anytime soon -- and if I do, I guess I won't grin really large!

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5 comments so far | Post a comment now
littlepeapie May 31, 2009, 9:04 AM

I guess they are really doing this b/c no one is smiling when they get pulled over!

Dawn May 31, 2009, 6:40 PM

LOL Littlepeapie. Funny, it’s really hard to read about smiling without smiling!

Does this mean they’ll make the lines go slower so no one even feels like smiling by the time they get up to renew?

Western Lady June 1, 2009, 2:25 PM

This… crazy.

Blackjack December 31, 2010, 7:39 PM

Thanks for the intriguing read! playtime is over and back to my school work.

Brian Cooksey January 3, 2011, 2:51 AM

Thanks for the absorbing read! Happy New Year and keep up the great work in 2011!

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