Driver's licenses to sport new look

Standard Michigan driver’s licenses and state identification cards will feature a new look and added security features beginning this month when they start circulating, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson announced today.

“The new licenses have the latest safeguards available to protect their integrity, further ensuring cardholders are who they say they are,” Johnson said. “During the changeover period, the licenses’ fresh design is the only thing customers will notice. The cost to renew a license or get one for the first time won’t change.”

Johnson said the state’s new contract with its license card manufacturer provided a good opportunity to add the new security features, which make creation of fraudulent licenses even more difficult.

The basic look of the new license and ID card includes an intricate line pattern and outline of the state of Michigan with the Great Lakes.  If a person has joined the Michigan Organ Donor Registry, a red heart symbol and the word “Donor” will appear on the lower portion of the card.

Features of the new license and ID card include:

•The state’s Great Seal on the front viewable under black light.

•Tricolor image of a bridge on the front that appears and disappears when viewed from different angles.

•New two-dimensional bar code on the back with encoded information available for law enforcement use, in addition to the existing magnetic stripe and one-dimensional bar code.

•Cardholder’s photo and date of birth also on the back viewable under black light.

•Laser-perforated word “MICH” on it.

People who are younger than 21 will continue to be issued a vertical-format license or ID card.  People who are 21 years old and older will receive the traditional horizontal version.

Because licenses and ID cards are valid for four years, the existing card design will remain in circulation through 2015, with some vertical Graduated Driver License cards in circulation through 2016. Cardholders will be issued a new license when they renew or if they need to replace a lost or damaged card.

The cost of a license and ID card will not change.  A basic driver’s license costs $25 for an original standard license and $18 to renew.  A chauffeur’s license costs $35 for the original and to renew it.  Drivers with motorcycle or Commercial Driver License group designation endorsements face additional fees. Personal ID cards cost $10 for an original and to renew, unless the cardholder is eligible to have the fee waived.

The design of the license and ID card was last updated in 2003 when the smaller half-tone cardholder photo was added.

The new standard license and ID cards do not contain radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips.

For images of the new licenses or more information about how to obtain a driver’s license, visit the Secretary of State website ( People also can follow the Secretary of State Twitter feed ( or Facebook updates ( to receive information.

Customers also may call the Department of State Information Center to speak to a customer-service representative at (888) SOS-MICH (767-6424).