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Driven to frustration by Oklahoma license photo snags?

BY VALLERY BROWN Modified: April 17, 2009 at 12:10 am •  Published: April 17, 2009
Amanda Espinosa, 28, said she didn’t think it would take long to get her driver’s license renewed. She set some time aside from her home day care duties and went to the local tag agency for what she thought would be a quick and painless process.

Espinosa said everything went smoothly until she had her picture taken. After waiting a few moments, the tag agent told Espinosa that a difference in her hair length was stalling the software used to digitally compare her new photograph with her past license photo.

When the agent called the state Department of Public Safety to get an override to allow the renewal processing, she was unable to reach anyone. Espinosa said that after waiting for the override for more than 20 minutes, she decided to leave and return the next day.

Karen Gentry, director of driver license examining for the department, said the issue was not Espinosa’s hair. Rather, it was probably the result of the software that compares photos as one way to verify the person’s identity.

Digital face recognition identifies features on past photos and compares them with new photos as a way to prevent fraud, Gentry said. Other security measures include fingerprints and signatures.

The first licenses issued when the state transitioned to digital licenses in late 2003 are now being renewed, and some people are experiencing issues because tag agents and public safety staff are just learning the system.

"We’re seeing more of this now, but we are getting better,” Gentry said, adding the department also is changing the verification software.

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DPS tag agent liaison Virgil Bonham said that when taking driver’s license photos, people should not wear:

Eyeglasses, hats or headwear that obscure or shadow the face or that have brand names, numbers or slogans.

Renew an expired license: Nov. 1 a new law goes into effect that allows Oklahomans to use their

old driver’s license

as verification of

identification. This

law also allows for licenses to be renewed up to 30 days past their expiration date. Until then, if a license expires before being renewed a driver must present a certified birth certificate, visa or U.S. passport.

Replace a lost, stolen or severely damaged license: Must present a primary form of identification such as a U.S. passport, certified birth certificate or visa along with a secondary form of identification such as a Social Security card, insurance verification or other government-issued licenses.

First time license holders under 18 years old: Are required to show proof of enrollment or school completion along with proof of driver’s education training. Go to www.dps. for a

complete list of necessary documents and requirements.


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