TOPEKA, Kan. — Kansas driver's licenses are getting a new look and added security features to guard against counterfeiting and fraud.

The Department of Revenue showed off the new design at an event Tuesday with Gov. Sam Brownback and Revenue Secretary Nick Jordan. The changes include how the information is presented and additional security features hidden from the naked eye.

"This is really all about security," Jordan said.

The fraudulent cards can be manufactured and obtained by criminals who engage in identity theft or human trafficking, he said.

Motorists will begin receiving the new licenses this week. Among the elements are photographs embedded on the back of the card that are visible only with ultraviolet light. Also gone is the black magnetic strip that once contained driver information.

For the first time the card has raised features that are difficult to duplicate, color photos of the Statehouse and sunflower, and two images of the cardholder on the front.

Kansas updates its driver's licenses every four to six years as technology changes. Donna Shelite, the state's director of vehicles, said the new licenses were part of ongoing technology and process changes aimed at improving security and customer service. For example, a change made in recent years ensures only one staff person handles a customer's business from start to finish to keep data secure.

As is the current practice, the new licenses are mailed to residents within days of applying with the state. Drivers receive a printed slip of paper until the new cards arrive, as has been standard practice for several years, she said. The fee for a new license is $29 while renewals are $26. The cost of producing the new cards goes from about $2.70 per unit for the state to $4.31, though the cost was covered by a 2004 fee increase.

Dean Reynoldson, head of the Kansas Alcohol Beverage Control division that also oversees the investigation of driver's license fraud, said bars, restaurants and liquor stores won't need any additional equipment to determine if the license is authentic. He demonstrated with a small, hand-held black light that cost about $20, he said, which illuminated the cardholder's photo on the back of the license.

Reynoldson said Kansas licenses were among the most secure in the nation and that counterfeiters typically gravitate to states where technology and safety measures are lacking.

"Most of the driver's license fraud that we see is not by underage people," he said. "It's a way to stay ahead of the curve."

The new cards only contain information collected by the state for driving purposes, but includes whether the individual is a registered sex offender, as required by law. No voter registration information, such as if the cardholder is receiving other benefits or services from the state or if they have outstanding criminal warrants, is available from the new license.


Kansas Department of Revenue: