New Jersey Is Latest To Adopt No-Smile Driver Licenses

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Sep 22, 2012

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PhotographHaving your photo taken at the DMV is usually nothing to smile about anyways, but in some states, smiling is strictly prohibited thanks to the limitations of technology. Happy motorists will have to wipe the grins off their faces in Arkansas, Indiana, Nevada, Virginia, and now New Jersey when they have their photo taken. That’s because the face recognition software used to match up old photos with new photos to prevent fraud will not work reliably if the facial expressions between two photos are very different.

You don’t really have to frown, but you can’t have your mouth open at all. The software looks for a neutral expression and detects immediately when a person’s expression is too animated. Retake. This, of course, is not sitting well with some people. After all, we’re conditioned from birth to smile when someone is taking our picture. It just seems wrong. And then there’s the embarrassment of having to show strangers a picture that looks like a bad mug shot. No worries, though. At some point the technology will catch up with the biological superiority that is the human apparatus and we will all be allowed to smile again.

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