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The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PENNDOT) is adopting a new security features on driver’s licenses it issues. The measure is a high-resolution hologram designed to suppress color so that it appears to be black or white, depending on how it is held.

“A driver’s license or identification card has always been a trusted source for establishing a person’s true identity,” said PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch. “We are steadfast in our resolve to combat counterfeit forms of identification, which ultimately jeopardize lives and hold great potential for harm to our national security.”

The contrast to other holograms, which are generally colorful and less consistently visible in environments with varied lighting, is meant to ease the detection of false licenses and forgeries. Pennsylvania licenses already incorporated holographic overlays of county names and other features embedded in each card.

License Security Features

The change has been adopted because older holograms have proven too easy to imitate. A PENNDOT spokesperson reportedly indicated the high-resolution and monochromatic nature of the new feature should aid enforcement, which can be difficult due to the circumstances in which licenses are generally inspected.

Implementing the New Feature

PENNDOT has chosen to implement the new licenses over time, issuing them to new licensees and whenever a driver renews an old license. As a result, the process of disseminating them to all the state’s drivers will take some time, although the agency has indicated drivers are welcome to renew early in order to receive one of the updated cards.

The same security feature will also be used in new state identification cards for non-drivers. State officials have indicated they believe the change could make it easier for police officers, airport security personnel, bartenders and others to identify genuine licenses and differentiate between them and fakes.

Effects of the Change

If the alteration has the desired effect, then those driving illegally, attempting to purchase alcohol while underage and engaged in similar activities may be identified more easily. More effective enforcement could cut down on underage drinking and driving, improving safety on the roads.

Given that young drivers are considered the most at-risk group statistically, an improvement in road safety among the demographic could substantially lower traffic crashes and resulting injuries and damage. This could improve safety and lower auto insurance rates, among other effects, by cutting down on unsafe driving practices. Other states may follow Pennsylvania’s example, spreading these effects widely.