MUNSTER, Ind. – The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles is restricting glasses, hats, scarves — and even smiles — in driver's license photographs.
The new rules imposed last month are needed so that facial recognition software can spot fraudulent license applications, BMV officials told The Times of Northwest Indiana.
The software compares applicants' new photographs with old photographs on file to protect them from identity fraud, said BMV commissioner Ron Stiver.
"We take very seriously our responsibility to help protect the personal identity of Hoosiers, and the employment of this innovative technology is yet another important step forward in doing just that," Stiver said.
The new technology represents an advancement of what the BMV already was doing, agency spokesman Dennis Rosebrough said. BMV employees always have looked at the old photo of a person to see if it looked like the person seeking a new license.
Indiana is one of about 20 states using the facial recognition technology, he said, and other states have similar restrictions on driver's license photographs.
"We believe it's our responsibility to assure all Hoosiers the credentials we issue ... are as accurate as possible," Rosebrough said.
BMV officials want driver's license photographs to accurately show people's permanent facial features, Rosebrough said. That means glasses need to be removed. And if a person has hair hanging their face, it should be swept aside. Smiling can distort facial features measured by the software, Rosebrough said, so that is also restricted.
BMV customers can petition to leave on headdresses in photographs for religious reasons and can petition to have a non-photo license or identification card, Rosebrough said.
He said there have been few problems with implementing the new rules.
"If people understand why we're doing something, our experience is the great, great majority of our customers say, 'Fine, we get it,"' Rosebrough said.