South Carolina drivers will have new licenses beginning next year. The state Department of Motor Vehicles revealed the next generation of drivers’ licenses and identification cards in a press conference in Irmo Thursday.
The most visible difference will be in cards for those under the age of 21, which will be vertical rather than the traditional horizontal shape. The DMV says the new cards will also have three levels of security features to help protect cardholders against identity theft.
The most visible changes include adding a second photo and giving the card a holographic laminate.
The DMV says the second level of security would require special tools, such as a magnifying glass or UV light. The third level of security will be known only to a few experts.
DMV spokesperson Beth Parks says the changes are meant to modernize the cards, which haven’t been updated in 16 years:
The old license had a couple of security features, but not like this. In 1994, the technology that was available for secure licenses wasn’t there. Now… there’s a lot more available. Other states are creating more secure licenses, we’re just following suit.
The licenses will be issued first as a pilot project in the Irmo area northwest of Columbia beginning next month. The new licenses will then be offered in stages across the state, until every county is covered by February 2011. A replacement credential will also be available online starting in January.
Drivers will not be required to get new licenses until their current one expires.
The DMV says the new licenses were funded by grants from the US Department of Homeland Security. Parks says they do not follow the Real ID mandates issued by the federal government., however. South Carolina is one of about a dozen states that have refused to participate in the program, which attempts to streamline state identification cards.
In Thursday’s press conference, South Carolina governor Mark Sanford also said the new IDs did not follow the federal Real ID guidelines. He said the federal standards infringe on state responsibilities:
It’s also worth remembering that today’s announcement represents a vindication of this administration’s stance on the federal government’s attempt to impose a national identification card. As many remember, … we argued that the states were capable of creating fully secure driver’s licenses without unfunded mandates from Washington and without jeopardizing our citizens’ liberties. We believe today is proof that that stance was the right one.
The DMV says drivers are welcome to change their licenses before they expire, but once they do, they cannot go back to the old ID cards.