The state's Motor Vehicle Division has launched a new hi-tech driver's license to better protect the public from identity theft. It features biometric facial recognition technology at work, which has been operational for about two weeks in Tucumcari, a MVD spokeswoman said.
Drivers' license applicants now get their photo taken and screened through biometric facial recognition technology. The new program compares a current photo with former photos on file in the MVD database, according to a press release.
The facial recognition equipment empowers local MVD staff to stop identity theft in the office, the release said.
“Each face will be matched with biometric facial recognition to ensure it's the real individual, and the license will have additional security features to stop forgeries,” said MVD director Kenneth Ortiz in the release.
The new license has several security features on it to make it even harder to forge. Some of those features have been released to the public, but others will not be disclosed to the public, to maintain the security features in the program, according to Ortiz’s statement.
The new license procedure now starts with a temporary license first. Since the secure driver’s license is processed from a central facility, applicants for licenses will now leave the Tucumcari MVD office with a temporary extension, which they will use with their hole-punched license until their regular license arrives in the mail within seven to ten days, the release stated.
For driving purposes, the temporary driver’s license extension is valid as a stand-alone document, according to the release. The temporary license extension is valid for identification purposes only when used in combination with the individuals’ hole-punched license or identification card.
Individuals with a current driver’s license are not required to get a new driver’s license or ID card. Only first-time applicants, out-of-state transfers, or persons renewing or replacing a driver’s license or ID card need to come into MVD, the release said.
However, individuals with a current license or ID card are welcome to get the new secure card, the release stated.
The state also launched a public affairs campaign, Take the Temp, to alert the public that the temporary extension exists and to alert businesses that the temporary extension should be accepted as valid identification when presented with the hole-punched license.
Statewide, the MVD offices issue over 550,000 licenses and identification cards annually. In Tucumcari, there are 6,000 active driver’s licenses and identification cards.