A Fake I.D.? Don't Fake It From Massachusetts

If you're determined to get a fake I. D., don't make it a Massachusetts I. D.

On Monday, the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles begins producing our redesigned driver's licenses, state identification cards and liquor identification cards. Your name, address and date of birth will still be there (some of it will be printed in green ink). And, you'll recognize the shape-about the same as a credit card-but everything else has been updated, upgraded and turned around. Literally.

The biggest change?

Massachusetts citizens who are twenty-one (the legal drinking age) or younger will see their licenses and I. D. cards set up vertically with their photograph at the bottom of the card and a bold red "UNDER 21" across the top. This is designed to help liquor stores, restaurants and bars make sure they don't sell alcohol to underage patrons.

The Registry is sending detailed brochures and posters to law enforcement agencies and establishments that sell alcohol.

Our youngest drivers, "Junior Operators," will also have the hours they may drive printed-in red-at the bottom of their vertical licenses.

Massachusetts is one of only five states to have a vertical license for the under twenty-one crowd.

Don't try to fudge your date of birth to pretend that you're older (or younger!) than you really are. Your date of birth is on there. Twice it's on there in black ink, once in red, and once in green. Three times on the front and once on the back. Twice, it appears right over your photograph. As I said, don't try to fake it. They've got you covered, wrapped and laminated.

They're using a security laminate that's bonded on the front and back of the core material of each card after it's printed. This makes your license more durable, but it also deters tampering -- tampering forever alters its appearance. Don't try it.

There's also something called PolaSecure in the security laminate. They call it an "optically variable security feature." It embeds the Massachusetts state seal within the security laminate. So, the seal is visible at various angles and helps prevent counterfeiting via photocopier.

There's more.

Ultraviolet sensitive inks are embedded within the security laminate. Why? This way, a bouncer, cashier or server can check your I. D. under an ultraviolet light to see if the transparent green "MA" pattern appears, to make sure that it's really you.

Or your ghost.

In addition to your color photograph, all of the new licenses/I. D. cards have a smaller, ghost image of your photograph on the front, too. Both of your images have part of a transparent state seal over them, as well as part of that ultraviolet "MA" pattern.

If you're an organ donor, there's a bright red heart directly above your photograph saying so. The Registry worked with the New England Organ Donor Foundation to do this-it replaces those orange stickers.

On the back there are two barcodes, they're part of the counterfeiting prevention plan with these new cards. The high density, one-dimensional barcode has an auditable control number. The barcode is layered under the Security laminate to prevent alteration. The two-dimensional barcode contains the bearer's demographic information, it's there to help law enforcement officials.

Classes and restrictions are also listed on the back, along with the Registry's website address (www.massrmv.com) and a manufacturing number. There's a space to put a change of address label if you move. The manufacturer also includes its own control number.

Where would people come up with so many ways to prevent other people from faking their I. D. information? Why Massachusetts, of course! Polaroid I. D. Systems-a Massachusetts based company-is manufacturing the new licenses and I. D. cards (something they do in thirty-nine other states, too). We'll each have own new Polaroid I. D. within the next five years.

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