Wisconsin Begins Issuing New Version of Driver’s Licenses

September 2015 – The Wisconsin Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and Department of Transportation (DOT) have begun issuing updated driver’s licenses and identification (ID) cards with the goals of preventing fraud and identity theft. The new identification documents will be phased in across Wisconsin’s ninety DMV offices by November 1.

Prompted in part by an expiring contract with a California-based license and ID card provider, the state began searching about a year ago for a new vendor who could supply official documents that would include a bevy of modern-day security features.

Wisconsin's new DL design

While the most obvious difference in the new version of the driver’s license and ID card is the absence of a color photo, there are numerous other elements that make the cards difficult to alter or otherwise counterfeit, including:

• A black and white laser-engraved picture instead of a printed color photo
• A stiff, laminated polycarbonate substrate
• Detailed fine-line graphic artwork of the state capitol building and state flag in ultraviolet ink
• Tactile fields for signature, date of birth, expiration date, license and ID numbers, and under 21 designations (especially useful for those evaluating IDs in low-light settings)
• A smaller, secondary black and white ghosted photo at the right side

For Wisconsin’s 5 million drivers, the fee for a driver’s license will remain the same as before ($35), although the cost to produce the new licenses and ID cards will rise over 35%. Fortunately, this cost increase was anticipated and built into the DOT budget, according to Ann Perry, Bureau of Driver Services director.

Current non-expired driver’s licenses and ID cards are still considered valid, and no one is required to replace their current license or ID card until it expires. There are currently two versions of legal Wisconsin driver’s licenses and ID cards in circulation, and this will remain true until the older versions are completely phased out in 2023.

Watch a video about the new design here: