Driver licenses, ID cards sport new look

South Dakota driver licenses and identification cards will begin sporting a new look and additional security features this month.

The state Driver Licensing Program has implemented a design change in driver licenses and non-driver identification cards. The new cards will be phased in gradually over the next five years as South Dakota residents renew their driver licenses and identification cards. Current driver licenses and ID cards will remain valid until the expiration date on those cards.

The security features on the new cards will meet more stringent federal requirements for driver licenses. States must meet those requirements for their cards to be accepted as identification for such things as boarding airplanes or entering federal buildings.

Cindy Gerber, director of the state Driver Licensing Program, said many features on current cards remain unchanged on the new cards. The design change should make the new cards easier to read and recognize, she added.

"One of the more noticeable changes will be in the design of the licenses and cards for persons younger than 21," Gerber said. "The restricted minor's permit, the minor identification card and the under-21 driver license have a vertical design, which should make it easier to verify the age of the person presenting the card."

The new system was rolled out in the Pierre exam station on Wednesday and Thursday. The system will be extended statewide during the rest of December.

The 2009 Legislature raised the driver license fee to $20 to help fund a new contract for production of the cards. The contract covers computer hardware, software and materials needed to produce the newly designed licenses and identification cards.

Gerber also reminds South Dakotans that beginning Dec. 31 additional documents are required to receive or renew a driver license. Details are available on the Driver Licensing Program Web site at http://dps.sd.gov/licensing/driver_licensing/default.aspx

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