Local News

DMV Offices Offer Face-Recognition Technology

Posted February 18, 2005 5:16 a.m. EST

— A driver's license from the state Division of Motor Vehicles is one way to prove you are who you say you are. The system is not fraudproof, but now North Carolina has a new tool designed to stop fraud -- face-recognition technology.

"This particular technology will help guard against people coming in and trying to get licenses under multiple identities," said Ashley Memory, of the state Department of Transportation.

When people apply for a duplicate license, the computer takes a picture and compares facial features against an old driver's license picture.

"Every person has landmarks that are distinguishable characteristics unique to the individual such as distance between the eyes, width of the nose, cheekbone size," Memory said.

One limitation of the new system is it may not be able to make a total match because a picture could be taken at a much closer range.

"There's not a 100 percent guarantee to any technology that I know of, but this is a significant step for North Carolina," Memory said.

Without that guarantee, the new technology is under the microscope.

"Even if we accept the industry's claim that it's 95 percent accurate, well, that means one out of every 20 North Carolinians who try to get a driver's license every hour, every day throughout the state will be erroneously flagged by the system as not being who they are," said Jennifer Rudinger, of the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina.

The system cost the state $1.5 million. It was put in several Wake County locations this week and will expand to 127 DMV offices statewide.