How to Tell if a Texas Driver's License Is Real?

Texas flag

As technology advances, so does the capacity to manufacture false identification cards that look realistic. In order to keep up with these changes, many states have added features to their real identifications that are difficult for civilians to replicate.

In Texas, these features include machine-readable magnetic stripes on the back and duo-color images on the front. Learning about all the features of a real Texas driver's license can help professionals spot fake ones.

Check the Cardholder First

Anyone who is checking another person's identification should first ensure that the picture on the card matches the person providing the card. Some people do not bother to create fake driver's licenses. Instead, they will take cards from people who look vaguely similar.

When people use fake identification, they sometimes feel nervous about getting caught. This can lead to unusual body language, including fidgeting and avoiding eye contact. While unexpected body language is, of course, not proof of a fake Texas driver's license, it may prompt further investigation.

What Texas Driver's Licenses Should Have

Texas driver's licenses should have several key features, many of which are difficult to replicate. If a license is missing any of these security features, it is likely a fake Texas driver's license:

  • Data overlapping the top of the photo.
  • Color variance printing – fine lines of two different colors as the background.
  • Security design print that includes the state capital building.
  • Two-tone text on the date of birth.
  • Working 1D barcode, which looks like a barcode on a product at the store.
  • Magnetic stripe on the back, which is a long strip of solid black.
  • 2D barcode on the back, which looks like a rectangular QR code.

People between the ages of 16 and 21 will have vertical driver's licenses. When someone turns 21, she receives a horizontal driver's license.

Signs the Texas Driver's License is Fake

There are a few ways to spot a false identification based on the visible elements of the license. For example, fake Texas driver's licenses often have raised surfaces. This is the result of changing the information on a real identification card by overlaying it with fake information. Raised surfaces can appear anywhere on the card, but typically occur near the date of birth. Spelling errors can also give away fake Texas driver's licenses.

The magnetic stripes and two types of barcodes can appear real at first glance, even if they are not. However, law enforcement, restaurants, bars and stores often have the technology to read these parts of the driver's license. When a driver's license is scanned, all its relevant information should match the physical card. The person checking the identification should see a picture and date of birth.

Federal Real ID Act

In 2005, the federal government passed the Federal Real ID Act. This law requires states to implement uniform security features on all identification cards by October 1, 2020. The goal of this act is to make it easier for federal law enforcement to spot fake identification and stop terrorism.

2020 Updates to Texas Driver's Licenses

In compliance with the Federal Real ID Act, Texas has started adding gold circles with stars in the middle. These symbols appear near the top-right corners of identification cards and driver's licenses.

If Texans have licenses without these symbols, they cannot use them for federal purposes, such air travel. However, state and local officials will continue to accept cards without these stars until October 1, 2020. Texans without this symbol should get updated identification at their local Department of Motor Vehicles office.

By the time the act takes effect, nobody checking identification should accept Texas' driver's licenses that are missing the gold circle with the star in the middle. Even if the card appears to be real in every other aspect, it will no longer be a valid means of identification.

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