Businesses split on effectiveness of ID changes

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Georgia driver's licenses are getting a new look by the end of the year, but some Augusta businesses question whether it will help curb underage drinking as the Georgia Department of Driver Services hopes.

The revamped licenses are more colorful and detailed than current licenses. They feature three photos of the driver, a laser-engraved signature and a tamper-resistant coating, making them harder to counterfeit.

Each will also have a barcode, which banks and stores can scan to verify the information on the card. Cards issued to drivers younger than 21 will be printed vertically.

The state is spending $40 million to improve its licensing system, which hasn't been updated since 1996.

The contract was awarded to L-1 Identity Solutions, a Connecticut-based company with an office in Conyers, Ga. The company produces U.S. passports, does fingerprinting for the Transportation Security Administration and provides iris scanning and facial recognition devices for troops in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The technology for driver's licenses comes from a partnership with Digimarc, the company that sued the state of Georgia in 2003 over a contract awarded to a rival company in an earlier attempt to digitize the license system.

Bill Prince wonders whether the upgrade is worth the expense. He said he doesn't think it will change the way he does business at Bill's Place, the liquor store he runs on Fifth Street in downtown Augusta.

"I don't see how it'll help," he said. "The date's pretty plain on the ones we've got now. We check licenses every time. It's plain on there. We don't have to have special colors or shapes to see it."

The changes were announced by Gov. Sonny Perdue in July.

Drivers at the Augusta, Evans and Thomson customer service centers should see the revamped licenses around the end of December, according to Susan Sports, the public information officer for the Department of Driver Services. Updated licenses aren't required until current ones expire.

The new cards will cost drivers the same as the old ones. As for the money the state is spending, "You get what you pay for," Mrs. Sports said. "It is money well spent. Producing a fraudulent license will be harder now."

Karen Miller, a manager at Somewhere in Augusta, a sports bar on Washington Road, said fraudulent licenses are rarely a problem.

"In most bars the problem isn't that people are using a fake, but that they're using someone else's ID," she said. "Whether (the under 21 licenses) go up and down or side to side isn't going to make a difference."

The sharper, digital pictures on the new IDs could, however, make a difference. So could the improved signature, Ms. Miller said.

"Some of the changes they've made in the past have helped. The watermarks and the holograms are the reason why we don't see as many fakes anymore," she said. "Maybe this will help, too."

Reach Kelly Jasper at (706) 823-3552 or kelly.jasper@augustachronicle.com.

LICENSE CHANGES

YOUNG DRIVERS: Cards issued to those 21 or younger will be printed vertically.

INTERIM LICENSES: Temporary licenses will be printed on security paper with heat-sensitive ink and fibers that glow under ultraviolet light. They are valid for 45 days and will be issued for first-time drivers as well as renewals. A permanent card will arrive in the mail.

DRIVER'S LICENSES AND IDS: Higher-quality digital photos will be used, appearing twice as a ghost image. The cards also include a laser-engraved signature, barcode, a state seal that responds to ultraviolet light and hologram.

LEARN MORE: www.dds.ga.gov/FAQs

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johnston.cliff
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johnston.cliff 12/08/09 - 05:42 am
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Until licenses have a

Until licenses have a fingerprint of the driver and establishments have a device that can compare the print with that of the person using the card, there will be no reason to "improve" the current license.

johnston.cliff
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johnston.cliff 12/08/09 - 05:44 am
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This upgrade won't happen

This upgrade won't happen because of the voter id. law. It would virtually end fraudulent voting. Not Dem would ever support that.

johnston.cliff
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johnston.cliff 12/08/09 - 05:45 am
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I hate not being able to

I hate not being able to edit.

cricketflea
3
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cricketflea 12/08/09 - 06:56 am
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When did they take away the

When did they take away the edit button?

Notreally
4
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Notreally 12/08/09 - 07:46 am
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Who want's Sonny's NAME

Who want's Sonny's NAME scrawled across the top of their head? they need to change that, it's like he owns you or something. CHANGE IT.

FedupwithAUG
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FedupwithAUG 12/08/09 - 10:16 am
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"In most bars the problem

"In most bars the problem isn't that people are using a fake, but that they're using someone else's ID," she said. "Whether (the under 21 licenses) go up and down or side to side isn't going to make a difference." Until they figure out a solution for this they shouldnt spend this kind of money.

Boston93
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Boston93 12/08/09 - 10:20 am
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I like it....Good job

I like it....Good job Georgia. Was this a CHANGE Potus wanted?

KingJames
10
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KingJames 12/08/09 - 11:37 am
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I work in the technology

I work in the technology industry, and my company does identity management. I would have loved for us to have gotten this contract, but I do have a problem with it. Scanning an ID to validate who you are gives merchants and the state another opportunity to track your behavior. It won't be long before they start scanning fingerprints. Trust me on on that one because it's what I work with everyday. The public is giving up more privacy for convienence and security. Everything we do nowadays is tracked by our cell phones, credit/debit cards, cars, and now our identification. Personally, I don't want merchants or the state to know what I buy and when I buy it. The same way this card will be used to verify your identity at the register is the same way it will be used to capture data about your spending habits. A lot of places now require biometrics (fingerprints) as a form of validation of who you are before they issue your ID. A good software engineer can associate that print with access control systems. Your SSN, address, and phone number are also associated with the card, which is why you don't want to lose it.

55 F-100
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55 F-100 12/08/09 - 05:10 pm
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This is not only ridiculous,

This is not only ridiculous, this is Obama-stupid. The state of Georgia is facing such a deficit that state workers and teachers are being furlowed days monthly, and the little sawed-off liar Perdue is spending 40 million dollars on this Obama-fabulous plan/system? You have got to be freaking kidding me!

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