New Jersey Bans Smiling in License Photos; Only One Person Notices


Since January, smiling in your driver’s license photo has been banned in New Jersey — and nobody seemed to notice (or care) until now.

In New Jersey, there’s not a whole lot to smile about — the brown water, the West Nile, Snooki. All of these things can lead to a perpetual frown.

Regardless, a Sicklerville woman was all smiles when she went to have her driver’s license photo taken on Tuesday, but was told by the manager of the Motor Vehicles Commission office in Cherry Hill to wipe the smile off her face — and now she’s pissed.

“Why should we all look like androids, looking mopey? I know there are some people who don’t have good driver’s licenses, but I actually keep all mine,” Velvet McNeil told the Philadelphia Daily News.

In January, the state got new facial recognition software to identify potential fraudsters trying to use another person’s information to get state ID — if the system recognizes a face attached to a different name, it alerts MVC officials.

“Big smiles,” apparently, interfere with the software’s recognition system. “Slight smiles,” MVC spokesman Mike Horan says, are OK.

“Hey-I-won-the-lottery-type smiles” are not allowed, Horan says, adding that “to get an accurate photo, you don’t want an excessively expressive face in the photo.”

There you have it, New Jersey — just another reason to frown.