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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, January 30, 2010

Drivers licenses getting new look

Advertiser Staff

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

The newly designed Hawai'i driver's licenses. Drivers don't have to get a new license until their old one expires.

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser
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Beginning Monday, driver's licenses issued in Hawai'i will sport a new look, one that authorities say will make them harder to forge, better protect drivers' confidential information and make it easier to tell who's old enough to drink or smoke.

The design of Hawai'i licenses was last changed in 2005.

The changes were announced by Maui County officials.

"A new, state-of-the-art production system that has been installed throughout the state provides us the opportunity to add unique, identifiable features to be incorporated into the new driver's license cards," Lito Vila, Maui County motor vehicle and licensing administrator, said in a news release. "These new features enhance the integrity of the driver's license cards by better protecting the holder's personal information from tampering, alteration, and fraudulent reproduction, Lita said.

Dennis Kamimura, driver's license administrator for Honolulu County, said that as of Dec. 31, there were 905,704 licensed drivers throughout the state.

Among the more noticeable license changes is one that highlights key dates for those under 21.

In 2005, the state adopted a vertical format license for drivers who are under 21 at the time the license is issued, Kamimura said. Beginning Monday, a red strip on the under-21 licenses will list the dates of the license holder's 18th and 21st birthdays.

"Most of the states, if not all of them, have passed laws requiring a person to be at least 18 in order to buy tobacco products," Kamimura said.

Listing the license holder's 18th birthday will make it easier for a merchant to tell at a glance if a person is old enough to buy cigarettes, he said.

Kamimura said all driver's licensing offices across the state have been equipped with new computers and printers to begin issuing the new licenses, beginning Monday.

Drivers need not obtain a new license until their current one expires. The fee for a new license will remain the same, at $3 per year for the length of the license.

The new licenses will also comply with all federal security requirements, Kamimura said.