RICHMOND — The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles said yesterday it is ordering two men to get their license photos retaken — this time without the red-painted skin, spray-on hair and fake teeth — or lose their driving privileges.
Will Carsola and Dave Stewart posted Internet videos of their pranks, which included scenes of Mr. Carsola spray-painting his face and neck bright red and Mr. Stewart painting the top of his head black and sticking a row of fake buckteeth in his mouth in an Asian caricature. They each enter the DMV office and return with real licenses with photos of their new likenesses.
In another video, a shaved-headed Mr. Carsola comes out of the DMV with a photo of his eyes crossed, and another friend obtains a license after spray-painting on a thick, black beard and a single, continuous eyebrow.
“We have sent letters to the individuals that basically require them to appear at DMV to reapply for their driver’s licenses and surrender any previously issued licenses” within 15 days, DMV spokesman Bill Foy said.
Mr. Stewart and Mr. Carsola, both 27, said yesterday they will get their “real” photos taken, and were surprised at how easy it was to get their driver’s licenses, outlandish getups notwithstanding.
The independent filmmakers did the pranks as part of a new movie, “and it escalated from there,” Mr. Stewart said.
“We were like, ‘There’s no way this is going to work,’ ” Mr. Stewart said in a telephone interview. “Even when I did the kung-fu guy, it surprised me how little they laughed. Will had red skin, and they didn’t even tell him to come back when it was normal.”
The videos, which appear on YouTube and Break.com under “DMV Drivers License Prank” and “Getting over on the DMV,” have prompted the state agency to review its current ID-photo policies, and to consider tightening its rules regarding customers suspected of being in disguise or distorting their appearance.
But Mr. Foy acknowledged that it is walking a fine line to have DMV employees determine whether a customer “looks right.”
“Would we ever ask a cancer patient why her wig doesn’t look right, or ask a teen with severe acne if that’s the way he wants to look?” Mr. Foy said. And, though DMV workers may encourage people not to cross their eyes or scrunch up their face in photos — which people purposely do — “there’s nothing to say that if they want to use that on their identification card, they can’t.”
Mr. Stewart said it was obvious that the oversized plastic teeth and spray-painted face weren’t physical disfigurements, and speculated that apathetic DMV workers probably just didn’t feel like questioning their appearance.
“I think now they’re embarrassed and probably are going to be [ticked] off,” he said. “I think their card was pulled.”
Mr. Foy said the men’s actions weren’t illegal, because they didn’t obscure their appearance with hats or sunglasses, but they did abuse the system.
“Using a disguise while obtaining a driver’s license is not a joke,” he said.
But someone must think the pranks were funny: The videos have logged more than 500,000 views.