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Why some Florida drivers licenses won’t scan

Florida mobile ID

Last updated on November 30th, 2023 at 11:36 am

If you are a Florida-based business, or a business that regularly encounters a large number of Florida drivers licenses, you may have noticed that you often have trouble scanning these documents. At IDScan.net we scan millions of IDs each week across our products, and such, have had time to investigate the persistent issue of Florida IDs.

The 2D barcode (PDF417) is the symbology on the back of the ID that is scanned by an ID scanner. It contains all of the information on the front of the ID but in a format that can be instantly read and parsed by ID scanning software. Tampering with or obscuring the 2D barcode impedes its readability. Printing issues or ID design issues can also create barcode scanning difficulties, such as the barcode formatting issue we see on the 2016-2020 Colorado drivers licenses.

Why won’t Florida IDs scan?

Florida IDs issued later than 2017 have printing issues in the barcode area that prevent them from being properly read by ID scanners.

At the start of every 2D barcode is an area that consists of one large vertical line, and three smaller lines. It is commonly called the “start pattern” or “start zone.” This area indicates to the ID scanner where the barcode is and when to start reading and parsing data. On an AAMVA-compliant ID this area is clean and crisp.

Barcode start pattern correctly formatted
Example of a correctly formatted 2D barcode

However, on Florida IDs, we see that the start zone is often blurry and the lines appear smudged. The ID reader cannot tell that the area is a start pattern and so it does not know to begin reading the barcode. Below are two examples of Florida IDs which contain this blurriness issue, rendering the 2D barcode unreadable.

Blurry barcode start pattern
Blurry start pattern on Florida ID
Blurry barcode start pattern on a Florida drivers license
Blurry start pattern on Florida ID

The blurriness issue often extends throughout the entire barcode, meaning that the ID scanner cannot read the data on the back of the ID, and thus gives a “scan failure” result, if it is able to return one at all. This is an inherent issue with the ID itself, and likely the way the ID was printed. It is not a failure of the ID scanner or scanning software.

How common is the scanning issue with Florida IDs?

Across our customer base we see blurry barcodes on roughly 1-1.5% of Florida IDs, which is why the issue has flown under the radar for several years. However, 1 in 100 IDs failing to scan can represent a significant gap in your business’s coverage.

Because Florida IDs are good for 8 years, and this issue has been found on IDs as early as 2017 and as recently as 2023, we expect that this issue will persist until at least 2030.

How do I verify Florida IDs that will not scan?

There are several ways to ensure you’re still covered in the event that you come across a Florida ID that won’t scan.

Optical character recognition (available inside VeriScan ID Authentication)

If you are using ID authentication, our software performs simultaneous optical character recognition (OCR) on the front of the ID. This allows us to ingest the fields on the front of the drivers license into the system even when we cannot read the barcode. Of course, inability to read the barcode removes the benefits of our 2D barcode security checks, however our software still performs the remainder of our fake ID detection checks including hologram and watermark review under ultraviolet and infrared light.

However, ID authentication is not available when scanning using a handheld device and requires specialty hardware that is capable of simultaneously reading the front and back of the ID.

If you are using our ID parsing tools, you will need to move to front / back crossmatching inside our digital identity verification product to take advantage of OCR reading on the front of the ID.

Third party checks

If ID authentication and front / back crossmatch are not an option for your business, the best way to verify an unscannable Florida ID is to trigger an on-demand third party check such as a DMV data verification or an IdentiFraud check. These checks can be enabled inside the VeriScan portal and will send the ID information to the issuing authority to confirm the name, address, date of birth, etc.

Unfortunately, because the ID will not scan, if you are using a handheld or a device that is not authentication-capable, you will need to manually type in a few fields of information (first name, last name, state, ID number) and then trigger the check. The check will take a few minutes to return results, and has a small per-scan cost. For this reason, it may not be feasible for busy bars and clubs who are scanning thousands of Florida IDs each night.

Additional staff training to manually verify Florida IDs

Simply put your bouncers, bartenders, or gate attendants through a quick refresher course specific to Florida drivers licenses. Help them perform a visual review of the barcode to determine if blurriness is potentially contributing to the ID not scanning.

Front and back of a Florida sample ID

Need help scanning Florida IDs? Contact us to help select a solution that will overcome the challenges related to blurry barcodes.