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Florida Driver’s Licenses See More Changes

The last time Florida driver’s licenses were redesigned was in 2003.

In 2017, licenses and state identification cards debuted with a new look and enhanced security features.

Now, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles or FLHSMV, is adding further modifications to the cards.

“In order to keep the credentials secure, the department went ahead and conducted a redesign which allowed us to put almost double the number of security features on the new card than was on the last card,” said Alexis Bakofsky, Deputy Communications Director for the FLHSMV. “Floridians have the most secure over-the counter-credential on the market.”

The modified driver’s licenses will include enhanced security features that better protect Floridians against identity theft and driver’s license fraud. 

“You’re going to see the removal of the magnetic strip and the relocation of the 2D barcode,” says Bakofksy. “The most noticeable feature is the tactile security feature on the bottom right portion of the front of the card.”

That addition - a raised bump - will aid law enforcement officers and others, like bouncers or TSA employees, to quickly verify whether an ID is valid or not.

Separate from the license modifications, the Department of Homeland Security had issued a deadline of October 1, 2020 where all IDs must be REAL ID compliant.

To make sure your current driver’s license or ID card is REAL ID compliant, look for a gold star in the upper right-hand corner. If you don’t see one, you will need to go into a driver license service center or tax collector office to get a new ID. For the list of which documents to bring to become REAL ID compliant, visit flhsmv.gov/whattobring

Bakofsky said the new IDs will be available in every driver's license service center and tax collector office statewide and online by the end of August.

According to Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, previously issued driver’s licenses and ID cards can still be used until they expire. Credentials with the old design and magnetic strip will be completely phased out after March 2027.

After 2019, retail technology that only supports the magnetic strip will not be usable.

“We’ve been working closely with the Florida Retail Association and other partners to ensure that they know this updated information,” said Bakofsky.

To learn more about the modifications, visit flhsmv.gov/newDL.

Erin O’Brien is a WUSF/USF Zimmerman School digital news intern for summer 2019.