Don’t look now, but New York State driver’s licenses are going back to the future-back to the days when all photos were in black & white.

Starting this year, possibly closer to the end of the year although state officials are unsure exactly when, New York state driver’s licenses will be printed in black & white, including the photo. The new driver’s license features will cost New York state taxpayers an extra almost $40 million a year, but New York Department of Motor Vehicle officials say the changes are needed to reduce the ability of counterfeiters to replicate the state issued identification cards.

A handful of companies bid on the job when the New York DMV said they were looking for a more secure form of ID, but the job was eventually awarded to a Canadian company. This was disputed by the losing companies and the issue was finally settled this week by the New York State Comptroller who decided the state could go forward with the contract and begin issuing the new identification cards.

Not only will the new cards be in black & white rather than color, the company which produces them will be using a laser etching process to actually engrave the image on a special polycarbonate surface. There will also a be a second ‘ghost’ image on the card, making them more difficult to duplicate and a special vertical image for drivers under the age of 21.

The state says the fact the image is in black & white will force ID checkers to focus on the physical facial features of the person, not simply on their hair or eye color. In other w orders, the simpler image is less distracting.