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New PA Driver’s Licenses and Photo ID Cards

on-premises liquor consumption

Earlier this year, PennDOT began issuing new format PA driver’s licenses and photo ID cards.  The newly-designed cards will be phased in over a four-year renewal cycle until all licenses and photo IDs issued are in the new format.  Both formats will be in circulation until all licenses and photo IDs are in the new format.  During that period, licensees should be aware that the new licenses and ID cards look significantly different than those currently in circulation, with enhanced security features aimed to improve fraud prevention and protect from counterfeiting and alteration. The new features include:

  • Elimination of the magnetic strip on the back of the card
  • Larger primary photo and smaller “ghost” photo
  • 1D and 2D bar codes containing data visible on the front of the card
  • Laser perforation – the Keystone outline with “PA” is embedded into the card stock and can be observed by holding the card up to any light source
  • Each card is laminated with an optically variable pattern with the State motto “Virtue, Liberty, Independence,” the Keystone outline, and “1787”

With the elimination of the magnetic strip, it is possible that your present scanner or card reader might not be able to read these new licenses and ID cards.  You should contact the manufacturer of your scanner or card reader to ensure that updates are made to your system.  Until updated, it is advisable to manually type the driver’s license or photo ID number into your point-of-sale system to ensure service is not knowingly being made to underage patrons.  You can also ask patrons to complete and sign the attached Declaration of Age card.   Do not let these changes to driver’s licenses and photo ID cards catch you and your staff off guard.  Make sure you remain vigilant in maintaining compliance, especially since it will be a four-year process until all cards are issued in the new format.

We recommend that you check the Pa.L.C.B.’s website and watch the short video that has been created to familiarize yourself with the new design and features. This link will take you directly to the Pa.L.C.B. ID video.  The video explains how you can check IDs while using the FEAR method – Feel-Examine-Ask-Return or Refuse.  Information can also be obtained by calling the Responsible Alcohol Management Program at 866-275-8237.

For information regarding national and state liquor law matters or general manufacturing and distribution advice, please contact our Liquor Law, Licensing, Manufacturing, and Distribution Practice Group: Liquor Law Department Chair Theodore J. Zeller III, Esquire (; David C. Berger, Esquire ( for Pennsylvania and New Jersey retail and manufacturing licensing; or contact our offices at 610-391-1800.