The digital image displayed on all driver licenses and identification cards must be full faced and provide an unobstructed view of the person's facial features. This enables the photograph on the license to be used as a means of proper identification for motor vehicle, emergency and public safety purposes.

Full facial digital photograph standards (Reference 6 CFR Part 37):

  1. Lighting shall be equally distributed on the face.
  2. The face from crown to the base of the chin and from ear-to-ear shall be clearly visible and free of shadows.
  3. Veils, scarves or headdresses must not obscure any facial features and not generate shadow. The person may not wear eyewear that obstructs the iris or pupil of the eyes and must not take any action to obstruct a photograph of his/her facial features.
  4. Where possible, there must be no dark shadows in the eye sockets due to the brow. The iris and pupil of the eyes shall be clearly visible.
  5. Care shall be taken to avoid "hot spots" (bright areas of light shining on the face.)
  6. Photograph may be in black and white or color.
  7. The photo image must be updated not less frequently than every sixteen years.
  8. All driver license and identification cards must contain a full facial digital photograph.

Sunglasses, hats, scarves or headdresses that cover parts of the person's face cannot be worn. Similarly, the photo image must not display the driver's tongue, hands or any other feature that detracts from the photo image. Glasses must be removed as they hinder photo facial recognition technology's ability to function properly. Uniform and unrestricted photo images will reduce identification fraud and prevent the Division from issuing duplicate documents.

If a female driver or ID card applicant wants her photo taken in private with only a female DMV clerk in attendance, the Division will make every attempt to accommodate that request within the limitations of its facilities. A Muslim woman may wear a head scarf as long as it does not hide her facial features or interfere with the digital driver license facial recognition technology.

(NOTE: This policy is consistent with the Florida District Court of Appeal's decision in Freeman v. Dep't of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles, 924 So. 2d 48, 50 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2006), which affirmed the lower court's decision that requiring drivers to have their driver's license photos taken unveiled, uncloaked and unmasked does not unconstitutionally burden the free exercise of religion. Furthermore, the State has a compelling interest in protecting the public from criminal activities and security threats and having access to photo image identification is essential to promoting that interest.)

Delaware statute, 21 Del. C. Sections 2715(b), 2718(b) and 3103(a), states all driver license and identification cards must contain a photograph of the card holder with the only exception that the Director may waive the driver license photograph requirement if circumstances prevent the licensee from appearing at the time of renewal. No such waiver is allowed for identification card holders. Today the Division of Motor Vehicles files contain photo images of everyone who has a current Delaware driver license. Therefore, DMV will no longer issue valid-without-photograph driver's licenses or identification cards.

Normally, the Division will update the digital image on file upon every renewal. Should circumstances prevent the person from coming into DMV when renewing a driver license or identification card, the Division will use the digital image on file until a new photograph can be taken.

If the applicant objects to this policy based upon religious beliefs or other reasons, the Division will not issue a driver license or identification card. The Division will give him/her the opportunity to appeal this decision to the Director, Division of Motor Vehicles, P.O. Box 698, Dover, DE 19903. The applicant's request will be reviewed by the Director to determine if an administrative hearing is appropriate. The applicant may appeal the decision of the Director or Administrative Hearing Officer to the Court of Common Pleas.

In the future, if the Division issues a driver license without a photo image or one that does not meet these standards, the customer will be notified in writing that he/she must return to DMV within seven days to replace the deficient document. If he/she fails to accomplish this task, inform the Dover Driver License Section who will change the driver license status to "denied" and notify the driver. Identification card holders will be denied renewal or duplicate documents until the photo image meets Division standards.