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Driver’s License Barcodes Decoded

Posted April 6, 2022
drivers license barcodes decoded

Arguably the most common of form of ID, driver’s licenses are used any time we need to confirm who we are (and more often than not, how old we are). Drivers license barcodes, along with newly updated license designs, began rolling out in May 2016 in Illinois. More on state to state variation below.

What kind of barcodes are on the back of a driver’s license?

If you take a look at the backside of your ID, you’ll find a rectangular black and white pattern known as a PDF417 barcode.

It may not look like your standard barcode, but that PDF417 code contains all the information on the front of your driver’s license or state ID in a single code.

A micro PDF417 is a type of 2D barcode that is capable of storing much more information than the standard 1D code. You may be familiar with QR Codes that you’ve scanned with your phone. Both are types of 2D codes that can be read with a 2D Imager barcode scanner.

Best Barcode Scanners for Driver’s License Verification

Many businesses are using a 2D imager like the AirTrack S2 to quickly verify your age or capture basic info from your driver’s license rather than manually checking ID.

Scanners made specifically for driver’s license verification have many benefits:

  • Fast capture, so you keep the line moving in the grocery or convenience store
  • 100% accuracy in verification, sidestepping errors from manual ID checks at checkout
  • Protection from fraudulent and fake driver’s licenses

While not every state organizes the information contained in ID barcodes the exact same way, the advantage is that criminals cannot change the information in the barcode.

This makes it extremely difficult to create a fake drivers license barcode without knowing exactly how each state encodes the data.

If the barcode isn’t created properly, it won’t read properly.

With the AirTrack S2 scanner, you can scan the code on the back of a driver’s licenses from any state to verify someone’s age quickly and accurately. This is due to the scanner’s ability to parse all the data correctly for you.

The parsing software on the scanner outputs the data you need, in the order you need it, regardless of what state you are dealing with. It’s actually faster than looking at the ID.

Another ID verification scanner we offer is the Honeywell 1400g, with models specifically designed to read PDF417 codes quickly and accurately. Corded and wireless options are available, so you can verify IDs at both the checkout counter or live event.

Avoid Fraud, Errors, and Lost Revenue

Given how simple and cost-effective 2D scanners are to get up and running, every storefront selling age restricted products should have a 2D scanner for age verification/customer info.

Related: Discount Store Case Study

With a simple scan, you avoid fraudulent ID usage and save your business from legal issues, errors, and lost revenue.

Browse our full collection of driver’s license barcode scanners and please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have questions about the best 2D imagers for your business.

AirTrack S2 Helps County of Greenwood (SC) Sheriff Department’s Capture Data from Driver’s License in the Field

Posted February 3, 2017

The County of Greenwood (South Carolina) Sheriff’s Department is to provide for the safety and protection of the citizens and businesses of Greenwood County through proven full service law enforcement practices, including both reactive and proactive responses to criminal activity, to ensure that public interests and constitutionally guaranteed liberties are protected and that the judicial process is followed according to law. In order to provide the best data to their patrol officers, they needed a way to scan a driver’s license and look up any associated records from out in the field.

Barcodes, Inc. recommended the AirTrack S2 to scan the 2D barcodes off of driver’s licenses. The S2 is a fast, precise and nimble barcode scanner that offers omnidirectional reading and is rugged enough to withstand repeated drops from 5 feet to concrete. Since most driver’s licenses are equipped with both 1D and 2D barcodes, the S2 is ideal for its ability to read both symbologies. Additionally, the S2 can be configured to parse specific driver’s license information based on what data the patrol office wants to capture (i.e. name, driver’s license number, address, birthdate, etc.). The data is then parsed into the department’s software program to look up information on the individual, such as previous records, outstanding warrants, and other information. In order to protect their investment, the Sheriff’s department invested in AirTrack service contracts to protect their devices from defects and normal wear and tear.

To learn more about AirTrack, our Government solutions, or driver’s license parsing, contact one of our representatives.