Digital licenses now issued in Edison

Staff Writer

Staff Writer

EDISON — New Jersey driver’s licenses will be taking on a whole new form.

The state is making the switch to digital licenses for all New Jersey drivers.

The township’s Motor Vehicle Commission began issuing the new licenses Friday.

The Edison Motor Vehicle Commission office became the fourth agency to begin issuing the new digital driver’s license, following Trenton Regional Service Center, Eatontown Regional Service Center, and the Lodi agency.

Each of the 45 MVC agencies is expected to be equipped to distribute the licenses by May.

"This is arguably the largest project the state has ever undertaken when considering the number of residents impacted, the number of state agencies involved, and the level of security," said Diane Legreide, chief administrator of the MVC.

The state agencies involved in creating the license include the Office of Information Technology, the New Jersey State Police, the Department of Transportation, the Administrative Office of the Courts, the Department of Law and Public Safety, the Department of the Treasury, and the Office of Counter-Terrorism.

The cost of changing the system of every MVC in the state is $7.5 million, said Gordon Deal, MVC spokesman. The cost does not include some additional costs such as training employees to recognize the licenses and detect fake identification.

"ID theft is a top consumer crime, and the license we issue is so easily duplicated that it’s not worth the paper it’s printed on," said Deal, who noted that 47 other states are now issuing digital driver’s licenses.

People do not have to rush out to get a new license, he said. The licenses that have been issued to drivers are valid as long as the expiration date printed on the card is still current.

At facilities that have not been equipped to distribute the new licenses, "you can still renew by mail and get an old nonpicture license, and it’ll be good for four years," Deal said.

However, after the MVCs have completed being equipped, all of New Jersey’s 6 million licensed drivers must go to the MVC to renew their license. Every driver in New Jersey will be required to have a picture license.

The process of switching to digital driver’s licenses will take four years because each license is valid for four years.

Digital licenses will have 22 advanced security features to protect people against identity theft, according to Motor Vehicle Commission officials.

Most of the features will not be made public so that duplicating the cards is more difficult, Deal said. Fewer than 10 people know all of the features, he added.

Some of the features that have been released include a "ghost" photo of the driver which can only be
seen in ultraviolet light located in the upper right-hand corner of the card, a hologram of the state seal, and hidden text over the photo that says the driver’s name and date of birth.

On the back of the license there are two bar codes that hold all of the information listed on the front of the card.

The licenses will be thicker and therefore more durable, Deal said.

Drivers under 21 years old will no longer have to turn their head in the photo to indicate that he or she is underage.

The new driver’s licenses for people under 21 will be vertical, "like a card in a deck of playing cards," Deal said.

A bar along the right side of the photo indicates the date when the card holder will turn 21.

For more information on the new licenses visit the Web site