License Renewal Running Into Problems

Friday, January 2nd 2009, 5:31 pm
By: News On 6

By Lori Fullbright, News On 6

TULSA, OK -- People renewing their drivers licenses are running into some picture problems. The state went to digital licenses four years ago, which includes facial recognition software.

The problem as those renewals now come due, is the computer often can't match your current picture to the previous one.

Facial recognition software measures many different points on a face and one of them is the distance between your eyes.

Four years ago, people were allowed to wear their glasses for their picture, but now they're not and that's causing some computer confusion which can mean renewing your license takes hours instead of minutes.

Having your picture made for a driver's license is for you, but fairly complex for the state.

Oklahoma went digital in 2004, which means taking a scan of fingerprints and facial recognition software makes sure you are who you claim.

"A lot of it, kids were taking tests for other kids, handed the paperwork off, come in and get their picture taken, now, none of that can happen. DPS has a picture in the computer system. We take it and it matches," said Vicki Greene of Jenks Tag Agency.

The system also prevents someone who resembles you from stealing your license and having it re-made in their name.

For the first few months after the digital system began in September of 2004, people were allowed to wear their glasses, but, then, DPS realized it was difficult for the software to measure faces because the frames blocked or the lenses glared. So, glasses were no longer allowed.

As that first group renews, the software can't match their new picture without glasses to their one in 2004 with them. The tag agency must call the state to get an override.

With 300 tag agencies calling for overrides, it can take awhile.

"A lot of them every day, sit on hold for an hour or two sometimes," said Greene.

Something as simple as tilting your head slightly away from the camera means the computer can't match a new photo with the one from four years ago.

That's because it's measuring the face, but things like hair color or change in hair style or even facial hair differences won't interfere with the recognition.

The problem is less common now since most people up coming up for renewal weren't allowed to wear glasses in their picture four years ago.

Everyone in the state will get a new license plate this year. When you renew, you'll be given a whole plate, rather than just the sticker.

This does not affect motorcycle or personalized plates and it's up to each person to destroy the old plates.

OHP wanted the new plates, since the reflective paint was wearing off the old ones.