Smile Big, You're In Texas

By Camaron Abundes   
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND- It's not a glamour shot but people flash their drivers license photo for years. Luckily, smiles are still optional in Texas.

"Most kids smile they get here for the first time and smile," Department of Public Safety Sgt. Oscar Villarreal with the Texas Department of Public Safety, said. "Most adults even smile it's rare to see a drivers license photo where the person isn't smiling."

In a handful of states, grins are now forbidden. The USA Today reports states like Nevada and Virginia don't allow smiles due to newly adopted facial recognition software.

"We're friendly in Texas, you can smile if you like at this time, there is no problem with a smile," Sgt. Villarreal said.

The Department of Public Safety started using the same type of software 2 years ago. This Spring, the state unveiled new license features to help cut down on identity theft. Officials say a smile won't interfere with it's software.

"Texas being the friendly State, I think it's wonderful we can all smile," Lannette Amador said.

When someone walks up to the counter at the DPS office they are asked to remove their glasses and hats in order to ensure a clear shot of the person's face.

"It's all a geometrical mathematical equation." Sgt. Villareal said the software scans and measures from various points on a person's face, "With today's technology it's almost impossible to duplicate an exact copy."

Sgt. Villareal says it has also been used to identify criminals including several child abductors.

"We've been successful at using an image from a video tape, comparing it to a photo in a data base," he said. "We've been able to find the suspects."