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Happy days are over for drivers in Arkansas, Indiana, Nevada and Virginia, which have banned smiles on license photos.  (Source: NY Daily News)

Diana Kim, of Fairfax, Va. isn't smiling as she gets her license -- it's banned in her state.  (Source: USA Today)
Turn that smile upside down

As high-tech licenses become increasingly hard to forge, the Department of Motor Vehicles has found that one popular approach to obtaining fraudulent license is for someone to pose as a friend or colleague in an effort to get an official license.  New high-tech software uses facial recognition to warn officials if the face of the person being licensed matches someone already licensed.

However, there's one problem -- the algorithms often fail if people are making different faces in the two photos.  So four states -- Arkansas, Indiana, Nevada and Virginia -- are telling drivers to wipe that grin off their face.  No more happy days for licensing, the states have declared, drivers must adopt "neutral facial expressions".

Carnegie Mellon University robotics professor Takeo Kanade acknowledges that the move is necessary given the poor state of facial recognition technology when it comes to facial expressions.  Researchers still have yet to catch up to the inherent processing capability of the human brain, which can recognize familiar faces in a broad variety of expressions.

Karen Chappell, deputy commissioner of the Virginia DMV says that the smile ban is necessary to "make the comparison process more accurate."

Some citizens who were initially offended are changing their tune, deciding that the rule is in the best interest of national security.  States Elaine Mullen of Great Falls, Va., "It's probably safer from a national-security point of view."

Arkansas, Indiana and Nevada do still allow small smiles.  Currently 31 states in total do computerized matching of driver's license photos, and 3 others are considering it.  Of the 27 other states without anti-smiling policies, many are considering adopting similar measures.  Some states though are resisting the movement.  Pennsylvania Transportation Department spokesman Craig Yetter, states, "People can smile here in Pennsylvania."

Even without a smile-ban, Illinois stopped 6,000 people from getting fraudulent licenses since 1999, according to Beth Langen, the state head of Drivers Services.

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I was told
By Mitch101 on 5/27/2009 10:02:48 AM , Rating: 2
I was told don't smile in your license photo because when you get pulled over you wont be smiling. This way you will match your license picture.

RE: I was told
By Seemonkeyscanfly on 5/27/2009 10:05:54 AM , Rating: 2
I don't know about you, but I mooned the cop just before being pulled over. I was smiling. She on the other hand....

RE: I was told
By Indianapolis on 5/27/2009 10:08:03 AM , Rating: 4

RE: I was told
By Seemonkeyscanfly on 5/27/2009 10:14:03 AM , Rating: 2
Person with no sense of humor ALERT…. Run every one it’s disease will spread.

RE: I was told
By Barfo on 5/27/2009 10:23:50 AM , Rating: 3
Bad spelling alert!

RE: I was told
By AnnihilatorX on 5/27/2009 10:28:41 AM , Rating: 5
Lost productivity alert!

RE: I was told
By Seemonkeyscanfly on 5/27/2009 10:35:01 AM , Rating: 2
I'm going with bad typing ALERT.... My bad.

RE: I was told
By FITCamaro on 5/27/2009 10:50:23 AM , Rating: 2
Do kids still use the word "dork"?

RE: I was told
By Bender 123 on 5/27/2009 10:06:13 AM , Rating: 5
After waiting in the DMV and experiencing the depression of their staff, I do not see how smiling would even be possible.

RE: I was told
By FITCamaro on 5/27/2009 10:51:01 AM , Rating: 1
Seriously. I think Family Guy's explanation of the invention of the DMV is quite accurate.

RE: I was told
By SpaceJumper on 5/27/2009 12:18:46 PM , Rating: 2
The cop can smile in his drivers license. That way it matches his face when he is pulling someone over.

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