State unveils new-look licenses

? Kansas driver’s licenses are getting a new look that should make them harder to forge, state Department of Revenue officials said Thursday.

The department’s Division of Motor Vehicles also has started making licenses at one central — and undisclosed — location, instead of having them produced in each of 108 local driver’s license exam offices.

The department expects to issue all new licenses from one central location by the end of June, but Kansans who visit exam offices in Topeka, Emporia and Holton are receiving the new licenses now.

“Our current driver’s license is one of the easiest to counterfeit of any state’s,” Dean Reynoldson, the department’s fraud investigator, said during a news conference. “Our new one will be one of the most difficult.”

Because the new licenses will be made in one location, Kansans initially will receive a paper slip when they obtain or renew a license. The paper license will be valid for 60 days, with the actual license arriving by mail.

Licenses for people under 21 will have a vertical format so that bars, taverns and liquor stores can tell instantly whether someone is old enough to purchase alcohol.

Last year, the state added a $2 surcharge to driver’s license fees to cover the $2.6 million annual costs.

The new Kansas driver's licenses, unveiled Thursday, will be in a vertical format for people under 21 and horizontal for drivers 21 and older.

The new licenses will carry a “ghost portrait” of the holder, as well as holograms of the department’s seal.

Two barcodes on the back will carry the information on the front. With two barcodes, any law enforcement agency should be able to scan the information electronically, Revenue Secretary Joan Wagnon said.

Wagnon said the technology employed could make it possible to scan other information onto driver’s licenses — possibly allowing them to act as hunting or fishing licenses, for example.