Many drivers will receive new high-tech licenses by Friday |

Many drivers will receive new high-tech licenses by Friday

LOS ANGELES (AP) – California motor vehicle officials on Tuesday unveiled a high-tech driver’s license designed to thwart identity thieves and counterfeiters.

The credit card-sized licenses, which motorists will begin receiving Friday, change color when viewed from different angles and bear a state flag visible only under black light.

California is the first state in the nation to use both the black light and special ink features, which the DMV worked with the Polaroid Corporation to develop.

”This has been in the works for a long time,” said DMV spokesman Steve Haskins. ”As soon as the technology became available, we thought, ‘What’s the point in waiting?’ because this is so important to every driver license holder.”

A recent investigation by the DMV found about 2,400 cases of identity theft in California over the last couple of years, Haskins said.

”Nobody will dispute that the California license is people’s main source of identity. It’s used for everything,” Haskins said. ”We have found that people want a secure license. We will do what we can to take away counterfeiters’ chances.”

About 18,000 Californians who recently applied for or renewed their licenses will get the first batch of the anti-theft cards. It will take about five years before all 21.4 million valid California licenses are replaced.

The new card still incorporates the security features developed for the card in 1999, such as a secondary portrait and magnetic strip on the back.

Haskins said the DMV does not expect to have to go through another redesign for at least the next five years.

”We think this is a cutting edge card which will stand the test of time,” said Haskins, who likened the card’s technology to something seen in a high-tech movie like ”Mission Impossible. ”Our license is at the top of the heap right now.”

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