News & Politics

Can You Find the Dogwood Flower on Virginia’s New Driver’s Licenses?

The new design features some Easter eggs.

Virginia announced Monday that a new look would come to the commonwealth’s driver’s licenses, including “enhanced security features that are resistant to counterfeiting and illustrate the beauty of iconic Virginia imagery,” per a press release.

Each license will feature two photos of the holder. The Old Dominion imagery includes the interior of the state capitol building’s rotunda dome, which circles the smaller photo. Other imagery may be a little difficult to spot on first glance. Virginia’s state insect, the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly, flits just above the holder’s right ear. The state flower, the American Dogwood, is a bit stealthier: it surrounds the smaller photo and, like the butterflies, is easier to see if you can tilt a physical license, says Department of Motor Vehicles spokesperson Jessica Cowardin.

The under-21 license.

There are more Easter eggs in the license, Cowardin says: Your customer number encircles your initials in a rosette—also a dogwood flower—below the bigger photo of your face, and your month and year of birth is prominently displayed under the big photo, with your signature sandwiched between them. Your customer number, name, and DOB repeat under the smaller photo in a trippy banner. There are other features designed to prevent fraud, but Virginia isn’t eager to publicize them, Cowardin says.

Some things haven’t changed much: The color scheme is similar to the previous generation of licenses, and people under 21 will still have a vertically oriented license. Your suddenly outdated looking current license remains valid until its expiration date. Once you renew or apply for a “REAL ID,” which you’ll need if you want to board a plane beginning in May 2025, you’ll receive the new design.

The new licenses began to roll out Monday.

Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute,, and Washington City Paper. He lives in Del Ray.