Wipe that smile off UPDATE | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Wipe that smile off UPDATE

Posted By on Tue, May 26, 2009 at 9:15 AM

Says here that Arkansas is one of four states with "neutral facial expressions" policy for driver's licenses.

You may not smile when your photo is snapped, in other words. The idea is that smiles make the ID process more difficult for facial recognition software many states now use to catch fraudulent applications.

Actually, the original USA Today article indicates Arkansas allows a little leeway.

Arkansas, Indiana and Nevada allow slight smiles. "You just can't grin really large," Arkansas driver services chief Tonie Shields says.

UPDATE: Them lyin' newspapers. And blogs.

I followed this up because I'd never heard of such a policy and wondered when it was adopted and how such a rule passed through legislative review without at least a snark or three.

Never happened. Tonie Shields is out of town, but her supervisor, Mike Munns, assistant revenue commissioner for operations and administration, said the state has no such policy and has never considered one. He says Shields doesn't remember an interview along the lines of which she was quoted.

In any case, Munns said, "It's not correct. That's not our policy. You can smile or grin large. We want people to be happy when they get their driver's licenses. I'm going to smile when I get mine and I hope everyone else will."

Munns said there can be difficulty in matching photos of the same person with different facial expressions and Shields might have acknowledged that in talking to someone. But a requirement on facial expressions "has never been considered."

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