Minnesota driver’s licenses and identification cards will soon have a new look, featuring a canoeist on the Mississippi River and vertical cards for people younger than 21.
The state unveiled the new designs Monday and will begin issuing the IDs Aug. 6. The current blue and yellow cards, which debuted in 2004 and feature the state seal, lakeshore scenes and snowflakes, will remain valid. People are only required to get the new cards if their name or address changes or their card expires.
The newly designed cards feature security improvements, and representatives of law enforcement and the bar and restaurant industry said at an event unveiling the design that the changes will make their jobs easier.
Minnesota is one of the last states in the country not to have vertical IDs for residents under 21.
“Vertical format is something I’ve been wanting for quite a while,” said Tony Chesak, director of the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association. “I think it’s going to be a good addition to our industry to have ... all the bar and restaurant staff that card people on a daily basis to be able to quickly identify an individual who is not of age.”
Currently there is a maroon border around someone’s photo if they are underage. Birth dates for all licenses are also maroon, which can be difficult to see in low lighting, Dakota County Sheriff’s Sgt. Dawanna Witt said. The black type on the new cards will be easier to see, she said.
The new design will be less bendable than the cards issued today but will not be as stiff as the previous credit card-like IDs. The security features include a “ghost image” of the cardholder’s portrait in the bottom right hand corner and a picture of a walleye that can be seen by holding the ID up to a light.
The versions that come out in August will not comply with the Real ID Act that Congress passed more than a decade ago to improve security after Sept. 11. Minnesota has trailed many other states in complying with the law, and plans to start distributing Real IDs in October.
The state is transitioning to the new design ahead of the Real ID rollout, because there is a shortage of the material used to make the current IDs, said Dawn Olson, Driver and Vehicle Services director.
State officials encouraged people to take their time in applying for Real IDs.
Minnesotans will still be able to use their current licenses or the new design to board domestic flights and enter federal facilities through Oct. 1, 2020.
“People do not need to rush in and apply for a Real ID card once they become available,” Olson said, noting that they are trying to prevent long lines at license offices.
Public and private operators of licensing offices, who will help facilitate the Real ID change, have already dealt with long lines and other burdens as a result of the state’s troubled rollout of a new computer system for issuing vehicle titles and handling vehicle registration. Minnesota IT Services, the state agency that worked on the system overhaul, was not part of the new ID design, which was done by an outside company called Idemia, Olson said.
If someone applies for a Real ID-compliant driver’s license in advance of the expiration date for their current identification, they will have to pay an additional fee on top of the $25.25 charge that is standard for a new license. The small fee will range from $2 to $6, depending how far they are from the expiration date.
The Real IDs will look almost identical to the newly designed cards coming out in August, but will include the outline of a star in a yellow circle at the top right.