Say cheese while you still can

By Layron Livingston - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - New smiling in your driver's license photo.

"You sure you want to," asked Shirley Alexander.

No one wants to...but everyone who drives has to take one.

"Look how beautiful I was," said Alexander. "Just wait and see if I'm still looking the way I used to."

Alexander just renewed her license.

"Did you smile," I asked Alexander.

"No," she replied. "I just thought it would be better to keep my mouth shut for once."

Billy Thompkins took his very first photo, a right of passage.

"Did you smile," I asked Thompkins.

"No, I didn't smile," he said. "I didn't want to."

Here in Texas, smiling in your license photo is a luxury. Right now, you can smirk, but not necessarily bare all of your pearly whites in Arkansas, Indiana, Nevada, and Virginia. Those are "smile-free" states.

The reason is to prevent fraud and identity theft. Many states are going high tech when it comes to driver's license photos. Nearly 40 DMV agencies use new facial recognition software to cross check new photos with other license pictures. The software works best when the photos are similar.

"I like my photo," said David Shepard. "If somebody wants to smile, just go ahead and smile. I don't, but..."

"We just ask that you look at the camera," said Trooper Jean Dark. "You can smile, or you don't have to smile. It doesn't matter."

Dark says there's no smile ban here in Texas. She says she doesn't see one coming any time soon, but your next license will have a fresh, new and more secure look.

"Tampering with drivers licenses is the main reason why the security enhancements were put on there," said Dark.

So say cheese.

"If I get stopped, I will be frowning anyway," said Alexander.

"You're required to show your driver's license," said Dark. "I don't mind if you took a bad picture."

To protect the integrity of Texas' new driver license, specific details of those new enhanced security features have not been made public. Production of the new licenses began last month.

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