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Virginia Sheriffs' Institute
Supporting Virginia’s Sheriffs & Deputies

            Virginians will soon have the safest, most secure driver’s licenses and ID cards in the U.S.  In 2009, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will implement newly designed driver’s licenses and ID cards and a new issuance process. 

            The cards will have a new look and state-of-the-art security features.   Cards will be issued from a central location using technology that is more advanced than printers in DMV offices. 

            “The new driver’s licenses and ID cards will be the most secure and trusted state-issued credentials in the nation,” said DMV Commissioner D.B. Smit.  “The enhanced security will reduce the risks for fraud and ID theft.”

            The most notable of the security features is a clear window, containing a black and white photograph of the cardholder, visible from the front and back of the card. Virginia’s will be the third such driver’s license worldwide and the first in the U.S. to carry this feature.  Other security features include laser engraved polycarbonate construction, raised lettering in the customer number, date of birth, expiration date and signature fields and an ultraviolet (UV) feature displaying the state seal, among others.

            “The driver’s licenses and ID cards contain 21 security features used by law enforcement and others who will verify the card’s authenticity,” said Don Boswell, director of Law Enforcement Services at DMV.  “These features make them difficult to counterfeit.”

            The newly designed cards will, however, maintain some of the current card features. DMV worked closely with law enforcement, retailers, hospitality representatives and others while designing the new licenses and IDs to ensure the cards meet their unique business needs.  Adult licenses will remain horizontal and include an outline of the state capitol building.  Cards for those under 21 will be vertical and carry images of Virginia’s state flower, the dogwood.  It will show the dates that the individual turns 18 and 21, to assist retailers curb the illegal sale of tobacco and alcohol to minors. 

            Virginians who apply for driver’s licenses at DMV customer service centers will receive temporary driving permits.  Licenses will be mailed to their home addresses.

            The new issuance process will be similar for Internet transactions. Online customers conduct a transaction, print a receipt and receive their cards through the mail. Eligible customers can continue to renew via Internet (, telephone and mail.

            “Central issuance of driver’s licenses and ID cards will reduce the use of false addresses and eliminate the appeal of out-of-state residents to attempt to illegally obtain Virginia licenses,” Smit added.  “It is essential that customers provide DMV with their current addresses.”

            Between March and July 2009, customers will begin experiencing the enhanced process and receiving the new secure credentials.  Currently issued driver’s licenses and ID cards will remain valid until expiration dates.

            For more information, visit

 Contact: Katy Lloyd, Communications Consultant, Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles
Phone: (804) 367-0148
Email: [email protected]

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