Have You Seen the New Massachusetts Driver’s License Design?
— Mass. Transportation (@MassDOT) July 26, 2016
Drivers licenses in Massachusetts are getting a facelift—though not purely for cosmetic reasons.
This week, Governor Charlie Baker signed legislation to update the state’s licenses so they can become compliant with the federal REAL ID Act. The legislation requires Massachusetts applicants to show “proof of lawful presence” in the United States in order to receive identification cards.
“The security standards and proper federal documentation requirements set out in this bill are imperative as the Registry begins the gradual process of implementation so credential holders may continue to board domestic flights and enter federal buildings in the coming years,” said Gov. Baker in a statement.
The legislation has drawn criticism because it bars undocumented immigrants from receiving a driver’s license in Massachusetts. It’s the first time that license applicants in the state will have to prove they’re in the country legally.
At least 23 other states already have REAL ID compliant licenses in place. The REAL ID Act, which was passed in 2005, laid out standards for issuing licenses so people could use them to enter federal buildings and airplanes.
The new license has design tweaks that instill a bit of Massachusetts pride. Watermarked behind much of the text next to the license photo is a picture of the golden dome of the State House. The little plastic card also features the state bird—the chickadee—and the state flower—the mayflower. Robert Gould Shaw’s Massachusetts 54th Regiment memorial also makes an appearance.
The license’s technology has been updated as well. It includes raised lettering, laser engraving, and a new bar code that contains demographic information, according to MassLive.com.
The redesigned IDs are being issued to those seeking new or renewed licenses. The RMV will begin issuing REAL ID compliant licenses in fall 2017.