- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 24, 2005

RICHMOND (AP) — Renewing a Virginia driver’s license soon will mean returning home with paperwork, then waiting for the photo identification card to arrive in the mail to ensure that drivers are who they say they are.

The change, which is to take effect by fall 2006, is aimed at thwarting people who use false names and addresses to obtain more than one license or ID card.

It also will let the Department of Motor Vehicles implement the technical means to manage increasing amounts of digitized information regularly used by state and federal law-enforcement agencies.

DMV has been tightening its security requirements after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Seven of the 19 hijackers had valid Virginia identification cards obtained through loopholes DMV has been working to close.

The agency also has moved to online verification of Social Security numbers.

In January 2004, it imposed higher standards for proof of citizenship by license applicants. Congress this month enacted new federal that would take that a step further by requiring anyone renewing a driver’s license in the United States to provide legal residency, often with a birth certificate.

DMV now lacks the technology to compare new license pictures, spokeswoman Pam Goheen said.

Earlier this month, DMV asked the private sector to develop and install the new digital system. Vendor proposals are due by June 28, and the system is to be installed by next fall.

Because the system is still out for bid, the DMV didn’t say how much it expected the new system to cost.

?The system will be able to confirm that the individual’s photo is not connected to any other Virginia driver’s license or photo identification card,? Miss Goheen said. ?It will scan the entire system for matches.?

The system will use facial-recognition software that maps keys features of a person’s face — such as the shape of the ears or the distance between the eyes — to compare traits. Smiles, hairstyles or clothing are ignored.

Matches showing a person applying for multiple licenses will be set aside for further review. Driver’s license pictures are good for 10 years or less. After that, a new picture is required to reflect changes in a person’s appearance.

Many steps in the new system are expected to be the same as the current system, except that the picture taking and paperwork will be in reverse order, Miss Goheen said.

Internet customers already are accustomed to this process.

Renewing online allows people to print documents at home that serve as temporary driving permit papers until the official license is mailed to the person’s home.

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