COLUMBIA --- South Carolina driver's licenses are getting their first overhaul in 16 years with new graphics, photos and tamper-resistent features, including a vertical version that immediately marks the owner as being under 21.
Drivers will not have to replace their current licenses until the ones they have expire. While the appearance of the card has changed, the requirements for obtaining it and the fees have not, DMV officials said Thursday.
Gov. Mark Sanford and Department of Motor Vehicles executive director Marcia Adams introduced the new licenses Thursday at the DMV office in Irmo, northwest of Columbia, where a pilot program is making the credentials available for a two-week period.
"The new design has multilevel security features that greatly improve the overall integrity of the card," Adams said in a statement.
All offices will have the new cards by Feb. 1.
"It's a totally different look," said DMV spokeswoman Beth Parks, noting the lightened background, clearer print and double photos, which she said are designed to make it tougher to alter or make a counterfeit copy.
The state last changed its driver's licenses in 1994, Parks said.
The security features include a holographic coating that shows the state seal in a rainbow spectrum. Other features include micro-text and ultraviolet images that can be seen under a magnifying glass.
Parks said a third level of security has features that can be identified only by DMV forensic specialists.
Many of the new features are similar to those being used in U.S. currency, Parks said.
The cost of a five-year license will remain $12.50, and the cost of a 10-year license remains $25. An identification card costs $5.