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Four States Adopt No-Smiles Policy for DMV Photos

June 17, 2009

GREAT FALLS, VA – The DMVs in four states -- Arkansas, Indiana, Nevada and Virginia -- are now instructing people not to wear a big smile for their driver's license photo because smiles make face-recognition software less effective in law enforcement efforts. 

Face-recognition software that compares a new license photo with other photos is less effective when facial expressions differ in each photo, according to a report in USA Today. The software is a major tool in the fight against identity theft crime. 

Dull facial expressions "make the comparison process more accurate," Karen Chappell, deputy commissioner of the Virginia DMV, told the newspaper. Virginia's no-smile policy took effect in March. 

A total of 31 states employ computerized matching of driver's license photos. Three other states are considering the practice, according to the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators. 

In Illinois alone, photo matching has stopped 6,000 people from getting fraudulent licenses since the technology was introduced in 1999.

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