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Nevada - New 'No-Smiles' Policy for Driver's Licenses Coming to a DMV Near You

Published on: May 26, 2009 03:10 PM
By:  APP
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file photo: man poses for a new driver's license picture Nevada - Four states are ordering people to wipe the grins off their faces in their license photos.

“Neutral facial expressions” are required at departments of motor vehicles (DMVs) in Arkansas, Indiana, Nevada and Virginia. That means you can’t smile, or smile very much. Other states may follow.

The serious poses are urged by DMVs that have installed high-tech software that compares a new license photo with others that have already been shot. When a new photo seems to match an existing one, the software sends alarms that someone may be trying to assume another driver’s identity.

But there’s a wrinkle in the technology: a person’s grin. Face-recognition software can fail to match two photos of the same person if facial expressions differ in each photo, says Carnegie Mellon University robotics professor Takeo Kanade.

Dull expressions “make the comparison process more accurate,” says Karen Chappell, deputy commissioner of the Virginia DMV, whose no-smile policy took effect in March.


Elaine Mullen of Great Falls, Va., bristled at the policy while renewing her license until she heard the reasoning. “It’s probably safer from a national-security point of view,” she says.

Arkansas, Indiana and Nevada allow slight smiles. “You just can’t grin really large,” Arkansas driver services chief Tonie Shields says.

A total of 31 states do computerized matching of driver’s license photos and three others are considering it, says the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators. Most say their software matches faces regardless of expressions. “People can smile here in Pennsylvania,” state Transportation Department spokesman Craig Yetter says.

In Illinois, photo matching has stopped 6,000 people from getting fraudulent licenses since the technology was launched in 1999, says Beth Langen, the state head of Drivers Services.

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Read Comments (9)  —  Post Yours »


 May 26, 2009 at 02:20 PM Anonymous Says:

How can you smile after sitting 5 hours just for renewal of a license


 May 26, 2009 at 03:35 PM Anonymous Says:

After all, when the cop stops you for speeding, you won't be smiling either...


 May 26, 2009 at 03:34 PM Anonymous Says:

Soon you wont be able to even think of smiling. =)


 May 26, 2009 at 04:14 PM Milhouse Says:

Passport photos already require this.


 May 26, 2009 at 05:06 PM Anonymous Says:

great, now erma bombeck's prediction will come true: that hell is where people look like their driver's license photos.


 May 26, 2009 at 04:59 PM Anonymous Says:

Its been like this in Canada for years. They take your photo a bunch of times til its EXACTLY right. so annoying


 May 26, 2009 at 07:20 PM Anonymous Says:

but the veil is covering ur face isnt it???no smiling eyes??


 May 26, 2009 at 09:32 PM bigwheeel Says:

...Personally. If I'm told to "Stop Smiling", that's when I burst out laughing...!!!


 May 27, 2009 at 06:52 AM Gidon Ariel Says:

remind me of this movie going around


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