This article is from the California Driving (and Surviving) FAQ, by "George J Wu" firstname.lastname@example.org with numerous contributions by others.
(RISKS appears on Usenet as comp.risks. See any issue for information
on accessing RISKS DIGEST archives.)
In RISKS DIGEST 11.03, hibbert@xanadu.UUCP (Chris Hibbert) wrote:
There will be a magnetic stripe on the back with three tracks encoded on it.
The middle track will be encoded in the same format as your credit cards,
and will therefore be readable with ordinary commercial readers. This track
will only contain 40 bytes of information, and will only contain the name,
driver's license number, and expiration date. The other two tracks will be
in a format that is incompatible with current commercial readers, and will
contain the rest of the information that is printed on the front: birth
date, eye color, hair color, height, weight etc.
The picture on the front will be an ordinary photo [color], with a hologram
of the state and DMV seals to make counterfeiting harder. There will
apparently be a different version for people under the legal drinking age:
the picture will be on the right instead of the left.
In RISKS DIGEST 11.63, atn@cory.Berkeley.EDU (Alan Nishioka) wrote:
Just for fun, I thought I'd try to read it. I had previously been able to
read bank cards (with help from sci.electronics).
Bank Cards -- conform to ANSI/ISO 7810-1985 ($10)
Track 1: 6 bit word with 1 bit parity. LSB first.
code offset 32 below ASCII code.
Track 2: 4 bit word with 1 bit parity. LSB first. Numbers only.
Driver's License --
Track 1: 6 bit word with no parity. Otherwise same as Bank Card.
Track 2: Same as Bank Card.
Track 3: ?
California Driver's License:
Track 2: (low density)
8 unidentified digits License Number Separator
Expiration Date (YYMM) Separator Date of Birth (YYYYMMDD)
Track 1: (High density)
Name Address City
Track 3: (High density. Can't reposition read head. )
It looks like there is space for a 58 character name [...], a 29 character
address and a 13 character city. I suspect the third track contains the
rest of the information from the front of the license.