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Getting Your License In New Jersey? Don’t Smile Too Much In Your Picture

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David Madden David Madden
David Madden is a Philadelphia native with virtually a lifetime of...
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By David Madden, Robin Rieger

CHERRY HILL, N.J. (CBS) — Most of us, quite frankly, don’t like the pictures we carry on our driver’s license for one reason or another. But going to extremes to create a photo you might like can cause some security problems for you if you live in New Jersey.

It comes down to facial recognition software used in most states these days. Smile or frown too broadly, and your picture could raise a red flag, suggesting you’re not who you claim to be.

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In New Jersey, staffers at the Motor Vehicle Commission are trained to take a picture that works within the system, according to spokeswoman Elyse Coffey.

“If you’d like to smile, that’s great. What we’re asking people is to not smile as if they just won the $5 million dollars in the lottery smile,” Coffey explained.

Coffey says it checks to make sure you are you.

“The distance between someone’s mouth and their chin. The distance between their mouth and their nose. The distance between their eyes. And when you make a bizarre or obscure facial expression, it prohibits the computer from conducting the measurements it needs to do,” Coffey explained.

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If you don’t like the picture that’s taken, you can have it re-taken, if you want. And in the Garden State, it’s about more than security. They’re starting a program to allow some drivers to skip a picture taking visit to the office now and then, as long as the photo on file meets security requirements.

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