New York, New License, New Problem …

Enhanced Driver’s Licenses being issued by the State of New York’s Department of Motor Vehicles are lacking bar codes that can be read by the lottery machines that most convenience stores use to help verify ages of tobacco or alcohol purchasers.

The New York Association of Convenience Stores (NYACS) said some of its member retailers reported that they’ve had to refuse sales of age-restricted products because their policy calls for scanning ID’s on the lottery terminal.

The problem: The swipe mechanism on the lottery machines won’t read the “enhanced” driver’s license because they have a one-dimensional barcode on them instead of the more advanced two-dimensional bar found on the backs of most New York State driver’s licenses.

The enhanced N.Y. driver’s license is available to a customer who requests it and provide proof of U.S. citizenship and other documentation. It looks similar to the current New York State driver’s license and non-driver ID card, but it contains several distinguishing features. Among them:

  • The word “Enhanced” is printed at top to the right of photo;
  • The American flag is at bottom right corner;
  • “Machine Readable Zone” is on back, similar to what is printed on a passport.

    The enhanced license can be used in place of a passport when traveling by land or sea between the U.S. and Canada, Mexico, Bermuda or the Caribbean, NYACS reported.

    New York’s Lottery Division was apparently as surprised as NYACS about the new licenses. Neither they nor NYACS were consulted beforehand, so the Lottery Division is checking into it and trying to come up with a way to reprogram the terminal to read the new license.

    A television news station in New York, meanwhile, reported that the Department of Motor Vehicles has issued about 5,000 of the new driver’s licenses since Sept. 16 this year.

    “Obviously it puts us in a bad situation,” Mobil station owner Art Hayes, of New York, told the news station. “They’re going to come in and say, ‘Well I just got this, look see it’s good, see I just got it,’ but we can’t read it, we can’t be sure you don’t look old enough, we’re sorry.”

    “We would rather lose the sale than lose our license and be fined,” Hayes told the news station.

    A lottery spokesperson told the news station the commission is working on an upgrade to the machines so they can read the new licenses. It will come in the lottery’s next quarterly download in January.

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