Time stands still: No new CT driver’s license photo for 16 years?

Connecticut’s new online renewal system for driver’s licenses could mean a person goes 16 years without getting a new photo.

A quirk of the Connecticut DMV’s new online license renewal protocol will let time stand still for Connecticut drivers.

You might actually like the photo on your license.

Earlier this month, Gov. Ned Lamont announced the state would allow online renewal of state-issued identification, like driver’s licenses.

What it doesn’t have was a way to update the photo.

“In theory, you could have it for a while,” DMV spokesperson Shaun Formica said.

In fact, it could be as many as 16 years. The only law that applies is a federal statute, which stipulates that ID photos must be updated every 16 years.

That means a new driver who gets her photo taken at the age of 17 might not get a new license photo until she turns 33.

The move to online renewal was in the works before the coronavirus pandemic, but it was fast-tracked “to make sure we not only kept our residents safe, but continued our work to modernize state government,” Lamont said earlier this month.

The only thing that changed was that the process is now online. Driver’s licenses in Connecticut must be renewed every six or eight years. Older drivers can renew their licenses every two years. None of that is new.

“The situation never arose until the online renewal platform came to be,” Formica said. “This isn't necessarily new. It just feels new because people used to come into the office.”

Renewing by mail was an option in the past, though you were only allowed to renew your driver’s license by mail once, Formica said, “So you never would really run into this situation.”

But with unlimited online renewals, six- and two-year renewals and no requirement for a new photo, “I could potentially renew the photo multiple times,” Formica said.

There has been some discussion about submitting updated photos, like passport photos, but Formica said the technology isn’t there yet.

“It’s not happening right now,” she said. “It makes you super vulnerable to fraud and identity theft.”

And, of course, some drivers might prefer to have their teenage self on the licenses, as Formica joked.

“I wish I could have my photo from when I was 16,” she said.

Connecticut Media Group