Local/State

Don't smile too big for NJ driver license photos

Thursday, September 20, 2012

"It's going to be hard not to grin," said Armeen Wijesinghe of West Windsor.

Armeen is like a lot of folks who like to smile when they get their driver's license photo taken. But motor vehicle officials are asking folks to tone it down.

"There is no 'no-smile' rule in the state of New Jersey, we want people to use a neutral expression," said MVC Chief Administrator Ray Martinez.

"Smiling is always much nicer if you can, but they always tell me not to smile so I don't," said Ranjan Wijesinghe.

In January, New Jersey joined dozens of other states implementing a facial recognition computer system to help cut down on fraud. But exaggerated expressions can confuse the program.

"Well, I like to smile. But I can understand why they wouldn't want that to happen," said Flossie Chua of Princeton, "because if you have, making faces or if you're smiling that could change your appearance."

"I think you need to be serious when the cops come and stop you you ain't gonna be smiling," said Lena Basnight of Morrisville, Pa.

"If it's going to keep us more secure that's fine," Jogendra Suryadevara of Montgomery, N.J. "A smiling face would be nice, but just a regular face without the smile, if it helps that situation, I'm all for it."

Officials aren't saying you can't smile at all, but ear-to-ear grins or faces won't cut it. Think more like Mona Lisa.

"Yeah, Mona Lisa. A small smile is fine. My driver's license has a smile but what we really ask ideally is a neutral look," said Martinez.

On the left is Aubrey Fitzpatrick's old license, where she's sporting a big grin. The right is her newer, more subdued photo.

"I smile but I don't think I've ever taken a picture purposely not smiling, so it's difficult not to smile!"

So from now on when it's time to stand in front of that little camera it's okay to be happy, but not too happy!

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Tags:
new jersey, driving, mercer county, local/state, nora muchanic
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