New TN Drivers License System: Facial Verification, Delivery by Mail

Your next drivers license photo will travel across the country before it arrives in your mailbox, says the News Sentinel.

“This new system, central issuance, is replacing an outdated system that is more than 30 years old,” Dalya J. Qualls, spokeswoman for the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security said via email.

“We will begin using facial verification technology to help reduce fraudulent issuance of driver’s licenses and cut down on identity crimes cases.” she wrote.

In January the state installed 30 self-service kiosks across the state, including a AAA branch office in West Knoxville. Tennessee now has 40 kiosks.

“The state first purchased three kiosks to use on a pilot basis using federal grant funds for a total of $165,000,” Qualls wrote. “The remaining 37 kiosks were purchased for $45,000 each, a total of $1,665,000, using state system development funds.”

The money, she explained, came from a $30 million appropriation by the Tennessee General Assembly for a driver’s license issuance system .

Drivers renewing their licenses, who previously would wait on-site for a permanent license from a driver service center the same day, now will walk out with a 20-day temporary license on paper.

Meanwhile the person’s information is logged and a permanent ID is stamped and mailed from a factory in Lacey, Wash.

“The kiosks give citizens another option to renew or replace their driver’s licenses,” Qualls wrote. “This technology will redirect traffic from the driver service centers and allow the staff to conduct more complicated transactions, thereby reducing the average wait time.”

The Tennessee contract with the Washington-based ID maker, MorphoTrust USA, was not immediately available Thursday. MorphoTrust USA, which also sold Tennessee the kiosks, is a subsidiary of the Paris, France-based security and aerospace conglomerate Safran SA. Nearly 30 percent of Safran’s shares are held by the French state, though a majority of its shares are listed on NYSE Euronext Paris market.

Stateside, the Tennessee license renewal kiosks wirelessly transfer the information via secure network connection from various locations across the state.

“The person’s driver’s license photo will now be sent to a central state database that contains at least 12 million other photos for a match,” Qualls wrote. Such a database would help make sure the person on your state-issued ID is indeed you, according to Qualls.