TAYLORSVILLE — If you get your driver's license just like you always talked about, be prepared for it to look a little different in Utah.
The Utah Department of Public Safety on Wednesday unveiled a new design for state driver's licenses and identification cards that they believe will help prevent fraud and protect identities. The new cards will go into circulation soon with the new cards being mailed out for the first time this week, according to Ryan Williams, the quality assurance manager for the Utah Public Safety Driver's License Division.
The state's previous design was rolled out only five years ago, but the state often redesigns its cards to "maintain the security and integrity of the document," said Department of Public Safety Commissioner Jess Anderson. More specifically, they adjust designs on a regular basis to thwart those who want to counterfeit documents.
"The longer a document is in circulation, the more likely it is that it will become compromised — fraudulently and otherwise through those who counterfeit and alter the document," he explained.
That's why the industry standard calls for a regular update to documents like driver's licenses and ID cards with updated technology in the design that makes replication a little more strenuous if not impossible. It's all part of an effort to stay one step ahead of counterfeiters.
During a press briefing Wednesday, Williams didn't disclose all of the new features of the new license design for security reasons, but he pointed out some of the changes Utahns may soon notice.
The new license will feature a designated header color, which means that different font colors are used at the top of the license or ID card in coordination with the type of document it is. A standard driver's license, for instance, has a blue header while an ID card is printed with a green color. The date of birth on a card is laser engraved in red with a texture that can be felt when swiping across it and there's also a laser-engraved "ghost image" that's visible but contains a smoother surface.
The design also features a pair of iconic southern Utah landscapes. An image of Arches National Park's Delicate Arch replaces the "A" in the Utah logo at the top of the license and an image of Zion National Park's Angels Landing can be found behind the key information on every card design. Both were included in a way that represents parts of the state but also includes an additional security measure based on how both were printed, Anderson added.
With multiple engravings using different kinds of lasers and also different types of print, Utah public safety officials believe counterfeiters will find many changes from the old card that really aren't easy to replicate.
While the new licenses and ID cards are expected to arrive in Utahns' hands any week now, Williams said those who just renewed their license or aren't scheduled to renew their license anytime soon don't need to worry about speeding up the process just to get the new card design.
"The current license is in secure circulation until that expires and there's nothing different about that license other than there are some updated features," he said, pointing out that some of the licenses featuring the old design will remain valid over the course of the next eight years.
"So over the next eight years, those will be phased out as people renew, get a duplicate license or make changes to their document," he added.
Given how frequent the changes are made, those who don't need to renew until 2029 could very well see a completely different design from the one unveiled Wednesday.