For most young people in New Jersey, turning 17 is a joyous time. When you pass your driving test, you gain one of the most desired freedoms among teenagers. Although most of us are past 17 and already have a license, at some point, we are going to have to take another picture and if you live in New Jersey, chances are you will not be smiling.
Recently, New Jersey's Motor Vehicle Commission banned smiling in driver's license photos. With my 21st birthday approaching, I was initially rather bummed that I would not be smiling in my new license photo, but after reading about the reasoning behind this, I understand why.
As upsetting as this may be for some people, there are good reasons for this ban. This new ban will help prevent fraud and identity theft. There will be new facial recognition software installed in January and it will be more compatible with photos that people are not smiling in and have a neutral facial expression. Now you can smile because of the reassurance you will feel due to the fact that the chances of your identity being stolen are reduced.
Many people argue that smiling shows your personality and you should be entitled to do so. Plus smiling is a good thing. New Jersey residents also wish they could smile for memorable purposes.
While these are valid arguments, the ban is not being put into effect to make anyone's life miserable. It is to protect all as individuals so your identity is not stolen. This is something that people should appreciate. The government is actively trying to solve a major issue, identity theft. As older technology becomes familiar to the masses, crooks find ways around the system, making it necessary to upgrade to prevent this from happening.
Look at it this way: you will not have to have your picture taken over and over again because your smile does not look good. The wait to get your license will also be a lot shorter because people will not be waiting for that perfect picture, they will just take the picture that they can get.
Leah is a senior chemistry major from Monroe, NJ. She can be reached at Leah.firstname.lastname@example.org.