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New Jersey Bans ‘Big’ Smiles

September 24, 2012 by  

New Jersey Bans ‘Big’ Smiles

If you go to get your driver’s license in New Jersey, put on your sad face. The State has banned “big” smiles, saying they interfere with facial-recognition technology.

The policy has been in effect all year, but it has not been talked about much. That is, until Velvet McNeil spoke to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

She told the newspaper that she stormed out when she was told not to smile, but not given a reason.

“Your picture means a lot,” she said. “It’s who you are.”

But the smile police are a little lenient. Raymond Martinez, commission of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission, says a “neutral smile” is OK.

Elyse Coffey, a spokesperson for the Motor Vehicle Commion, said that a slight smile is acceptable, but people should not smile as if they won a lottery.

“The digital photos allow us to conduct a facial recognition scrub, which allows us to check the photos of our 19 million faces to make sure each driver has only one driving record and you are who you say you are,” Coffey said. “We’re asking customers not to make exaggerated facial expressions.”

Bryan Nash

Staff writer Bryan Nash has devoted much of his life to searching for the truth behind the lies that the masses never question. He is currently pursuing a Master's of Divinity and is the author of The Messiah's Misfits, Things Unseen and The Backpack Guide to Surviving the University. He has also been a regular contributor to the magazine Biblical Insights.

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  • Buster the Anatolian

    I saw another article about this and another state (I don’t remember which one) said they had NO problems with facial recognition programs and big smiles.

    • Robert Smith

      Does anyone ever smile when they get stopped?


      • FreedomFighter

        I live in a small town and see the officers several times a week as I cruise around town… I smile and sometimes wave hello. They are good guys you want gettin your 6 when the SHTF.

        Who are you gonna call when 5 guys are breaking into your house; The ACLU or the Police?

        Support your choice…

        Laus Deo
        Semper Fi

      • Steve E

        If 5 guys were breaking into my house. I would only need to call the morgue.

      • vicki

        I would call Mr Smith and Mr Wesson. Then I would call the police for backup and cleanup assistance.

    • Vigilant

      Mr. Nash says, “The State has banned “big” smiles, saying they interfere with facial-recognition technology.”

      Not quite.


      “Elyse Coffey, a spokeswoman for the Motor Vehicle Commission, said that there was no law banning smiles, only a simple request that drivers not smile “as if you’ve just won $5 million in the lottery.”

      As long as there’s no law to that effect, the state cannot and has not banned the smile.

      • Nadzieja Batki

        If you go to that most unpleasant place called the DMV and some clerk tells you that you cannot smile because the facial recognition software cannot adjust for all the smiley lines of your face on this particular day, you will not smile because the human makes an automatic assumption that there is already a law in place and that the DMV is just enforcing the law.

      • Vigilant

        A “simple request” and being told are two different things.

      • eddie47d

        Everyone has a normal facial expression so use it when having an important document being made up. Few people have big grins or frowns 24/7 so why make this a big issue. Save those other faces for family pictures or those silly photo booths.

  • Harold Olsen

    Personally, I don’t like to smile for my driver’s license photo. However, whenever I go in to renew my license, they alwaysy say to me, “Let’s have a big smile.” This year I renewed online.

  • scared

    I don’t think NJ let’s you renew on line at least not yet. Talk about letting old do so before a certain birth year. Just more and more watching and ‘looking out’ for us

  • Sarasota John

    That is a lie, but let’s assumes its not, how then could that process standup in court? Or if anyone wanted to hide their appearance a few well placed balls of cotton, bee sting or plastic implant would yield excellent results to hide ones appearance. No the truth is the State including the Federal Government are seeing how far they can nudge ,or maybe we are at the push stage, on control the public without an uprising. This process will have you praying to the government rather then God, all one has to do is look how the greatest number of people are controlled in the world today by one government.

    1984 is long gone but so are our freedoms as they continue to decrease in an ever faster fashion. Just look at what happen a week or two ago, we are now subject to laws of the UN which we did not vote on, which violate our US Constitution, so what they call a living document is now dying very quickly.

    • eddie47d

      I could tell what this article was about right off the bat and where it was going. This simple request has now turned into another national conspiracy theory and supposed take over by government gangsters. The Sarasota John’s never disappoint!

  • Ben W. Gardner

    What’s the big deal and “news” here. They have prohibited smiles on passport photos for over ten years. Immigration photos are also “no smile” as are mug shots. This is nothing new. Facial recognition is still in its infancy and quite unreliable unless your picture is a “plain vanilla” photo. I also know that in Ontario, Canada, there is a “no smile” rule for driver’s license and provincial ID card pictures.

  • JimH

    Nothin to smile about in Jersy anyway.

    • Karolyn

      I smiled a lot more when I lived in Jersey!

      • TIME

        Dear Karolyn,

        Is the fact that you smiled more in NJ due to your having to pay to get in or out of the state?

        Peace and Love

  • jopa

    There is a bigger problem in New Jersey than people smiling at the cameras.When Chris Christie went to get his photo ID they had to go out and purchase a camera that could take panoramic pictures.

    • Jonathan

      Aren’t you the funny comedian, making fun of people who are overweight.

      • Vigilant

        Oh, don’t take issue with the politically correct communist jopa. Politically correct, that is, if it only involves leftists. Apparently, it’s OK to be politically incorrect when it comes to all others.

  • Randy G

    Actually in Arizona, I had to take off my glasses to take a MVD picture . Only a statement on the back says ‘corrective lenses’ & for years I took a picture with glasses & no lens flare.

  • buffet0

    That chic in the picture accompanying the article is cute man. She would dig me.


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