Back to the future: New York changes drivers' licenses to black and white to combat counterfeiting

By Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED: 17:50 EST, 17 March 2013 | UPDATED: 17:50 EST, 17 March 2013

New York state is going for a retro look on new drivers' licenses as portraits on the cards will soon appear in black and white.

From July photos on the ID will appear in old-fashioned monochrome, a move that authorities say will make the documents almost impossible to counterfeit.

The licenses will not be printed, but laser engraved in grayscale on a stiff polycarbonate material that will sound like a compact disc when dropped, as reported by The New York Times.

Monochrome: The New York DMV believe the new license will be almost impossible to forge

Monochrome: The New York DMV believe the new license will be almost impossible to forge

Technology: The new ID will have the portrait and other personal data engraved on the hard polycarbonate and include a range of other devices, both visible and invisible

Technology: The new ID will have the portrait and other personal data engraved on the hard polycarbonate and include a range of other devices, both visible and invisible

States have tried a raft of measures over the years to make counterfeiting of licenses more difficult, including holograms, barcodes and water marks. The market for forged documents continues to flourish online.

Fake IDs are used by underage drinkers, in identity fraud and even employed by terrorists.    

'We see the New York driver’s license as the first line of defense,' J. David Sampson, executive deputy commissioner of the State Department of Motor Vehicles, told The New York Times.

The new ID will have the portrait and other personal data engraved on the hard polycarbonate and include a range of other devices, both visible and invisible, to prevent forgery.

A 'ghost image' is a second photo of the holder that appears in a transparent window and can be viewed from both sides of the card.

Authorities promise 'the most counterfeit and tamper-resistant document technologically available' with around 30 security features, including embedded lines, patterns and micro-lettering.

Colorful: The current New York license was introduced in 2005

Colorful: The current New York license was introduced in 2005

The New York DMV say that all the innovations will come together to a create a 'solid, monolithic structure that cannot be separated into layers and tampered with.'

One Tumblr user discovered the model used in the mock-up of the new license has been pictured in a variety of situations. The woman has been posed as a radiographer, real estate agent and interpreter among other things.

The updated licenses will cost around $1 more per license to produce but the department said that no extra costs will be passed on to drivers. It also said the waiting time for new licenses would not change.

Owen McShane, director of investigations for the department, told the New York Times that the cost of production would deter forgery.

'It’s hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars for an inscriber (the engraving machine),' Mr. McShane said. 'It’s not something a college student is going to be able to go out and get.'

Chipped: New York produced an 'enhanced' license that contains a computer chip in 2008

Chipped: New York produced an 'enhanced' license that contains a computer chip in 2008

The State Department started issuing polycarbonate passport cards with black-and-white photos in 2008 and a number of states are considering incorporating monochrome on their IDs.

New York is the second state to use the grayscale measures after Virginia employed the technology on a new license with 21 security checks in 2009.

Pam Goheen, of the Virginia DMV, told The New York Times that since then they hadn't encountered a 'credible' counterfeit of a Virginia license.

North Carolina will introduce polycarbonate licenses with black-and-white images later this year or in early 2014.

By Staff 03/17/2013 11:50:00