State to issue new Tennessee driver licenses, ID cards

Wednesday, March 16, 2011 at 4:01pm
Staff reports

Tennesseans will soon be able to get what will be the first new state driver licenses and ID cards in eight years.

Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons said the new driver licenses and identification cards will offer updated security features to help combat document fraud and protect the identities of Tennesseans by using the latest credentialing technology.

This is the first major revision of Tennessee driver licenses and ID cards since 2003. 

“A top priority of the Department of Safety and Homeland Security is safeguarding the identity of Tennessee citizens to prevent identity theft and document fraud,” Gibbons said in a release.  “The new cards will be the most secure our state has issued to date.”

All current Tennessee licenses and IDs will remain valid until the expiration date, Gibbons said. At that time, license holders will apply for a newly designed card. New card production began on a pilot basis on Tuesday in Gallatin.  The cards will begin to roll out across the state starting at driver license stations in the four metropolitan areas (Davidson, Knox, Hamilton and Shelby counties) later this month. Statewide implementation of the new card is expected to be completed at all locations within four to six weeks.

Existing licenses are still valid. Those citizens applying for a new license or renewing an existing license will receive the newly designed format.

The driver license and ID cards include several upgraded design and security features, including a  new banner showcasing Tennessee landmarks and icons; a new background design; enlarged organ donor symbol, when authorized;  multiple date of birth placements on the front and back of the card; a vertical format to distinguish driving privilege from identification-only cards; and digital portrait and signature, both stored in a permanent database, to easily verify identification.

“Tennessee driver licenses have not been updated in eight years, and the technology behind them is eight years old,” Gibbons said. “These new cards utilize the latest technology.  They are more secure and are designed to be more difficult to counterfeit, alter or duplicate.”