Wipe That Smile Off Your Face, Virginia Driver

Virginia bans smiling for driver's license photos

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MICHAELA MANALANG

WASHINGTON -- As most people are generally bubbly and bursting with joy after waiting in line after line for hour after hour -- often on a second or third visit after forgetting their cable bills to prove their residences (to environmentalists' chagrin, the DMV stands firmly in the way of practical paperless billing) -- at the Department of Motor Vehicles, Virginia is insisting that people refrain from smiling for their driver's license pictures.

A new policy requires a "neutral facial expression" for the photos in an effort to fight fraud. The policy comes in anticipation of facial recognition programs that would be able to recognize if someone already has gotten a license under a different name. Smiling makes that harder to determine.

Some drivers are all smiles despite the fact that the DMV is like the dentist minus the laughing gas. They argue that it's just a natural reaction to smile for the camera. But they won't be allowed to smile even a little bit because the DMV photographer will get a message rejecting the photo.

This has nothing to do with the controversy a few years back when some pranksters got their Virginia driver's license photos wearing disguises and making faces, DMV officials said.

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