New Mexico is joining a growing number of states changing the way driver’s licenses are issued – and changing the licenses themselves.
According to The Associated Press, the state Motor Vehicle Division is rolling out new, high-security licenses starting in 2008. Because of the new security features, the licenses will no longer be issued at state MVD offices, but rather from a state-contracted vendor in Washington state.
MVD director Ken Ortize told The AP that the changes, which will begin by the end of February, include new security features on the licenses themselves such as laser perforation, a ghost image of the main photo on the lower right corner, and a bar code for use when traffic tickets are given.
Those getting a New Mexico license for the first time will also face new security requirements.
All driver’s license applicants will have their record checked with a national database, called the Problem Driver Pointer System, to see if a driver's license is currently suspended or revoked in another state or whether he has any unpaid citations.
Motorists seeking to renew their current New Mexico driver's licenses will be subject only to checks on the Problem Driver Pointer System and biometric facial recognition.
“We're taking a picture of an applicant, comparing that photo with the photo on the previous driver's license and then comparing it to a complete database of all images we have,” Ortiz told The AP.
“This makes sure a person doesn't have a stolen identity, a fraudulent identity or a multiple set of identities.”
As in the past, four documents will also be required for proof of identity, including a birth certificate, a Social Security card and two proofs of state residency such as a utility bill.
These documents will be scanned using a new device and software that seeks out embedded security features to make sure the documents are legitimate.
MVD offices in Santa Fe and Albuquerque will be the first ones affected. The rest of the offices in the state are expected to be switched by April.
It is unclear if the new changes will affect commercial driver’s licenses. A call to the state MVD office was not returned.