License, Registration And Weight, Please

By Brigid Schulte
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, July 21, 2008

Consider the driver's license. That unimpeachable document you show to enter government buildings, get on a plane or go anywhere sensitive in this post-9/11 world. It's the cornerstone of our security these days, used to weed out the dangerous terrorist from the benign traveler. The legal from the illegal immigrant. It establishes that you are you, and not some impostor. Because everything's true on a government-issued ID, right?

Name? Check. Address? Check. Birth date? Check. Sex? Check.

Weight? . . .

Yeah, right.

Let's face it, most women in America lie about their weight on their driver's licenses.

There are blogs, Internet mailing lists and entire Web sites devoted to the topic, like the one on titled "Want to get down to driver's license weight lol." One contributor named Lori explained her situation this way: "I did not lie on my license at the time I had the picture taken. But here in GA we can renew by mail for 10 years. At renewal time, I was at my highest weight which was 117 lbs more than my license."

I've lied, too. Not to that extent. But I think I've lied on every driver's license application since I was 16 and never thought twice about it. So when I went to renew my Virginia driver's license not long ago, I was pleasantly surprised to see that my fictitious weight was nowhere to be seen on the face of my shiny new license.


Had Virginia's Department of Motor Vehicles finally come to the sad realization that women are big fat liars about their weight and that it was time to end the useless charade? Not exactly. "Uh, we discontinued showing weight on driver's licenses in 1985," said Pam Goheen, Virginia DMV director of communications. It was all part of a license redesign, she said. There wasn't enough space for all the usual physical identifiers, so they left out weight, eye and hair color.

Okay, so I'm not terribly perceptive. But I distinctly remember fibbing about my weight on some form when I renewed my license. Goheen explained that Virginia still asks for weight, it just doesn't show it anymore. It's in the squiggly black lines of the bar code on the back of my license now, which can be read only by a little scanner in the car of the state trooper or police officer who pulls me over and runs my license through the Virginia Criminal Information Network.

"It is to provide additional information for law enforcement and to assist in the prevention of fraud," Goheen said.

So a law enforcement officer with a keen eye could still figure out I'd lied about my weight?

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