Woman’s new license mistakenly features her in a face mask: 'Of course it would happen to me'

Lesley Pilgrim believed she was being proactive in going to her local DMV to have her license renewed before her birthday. In the end, however, she had a lot more than expected - on her license photo she was shown with her cloth mask.
Pilgrim, a 25-year-old law student at Chapman University, tells Yahoo Life that she was "excited" to get a new photo for her license instead of just mailing renewal forms and using her old license photo for another five years. In early February, Pilgrim joined a long line outside of Laguna Hills, California, DMV.
"I've clarified my entire work schedule for this," she says. "I was excited that I was being so proactive." But Pilgrim says she immediately realized that the DMV staff were "stressed and overwhelmed".
A California woman got a surprise when her new driver's license arrived in the mail with a photo of her in a mask. (Photo: Leslie Pilgrim)
"They made sure everyone was three feet apart and even got people on the mark," she says. "I realized that they were all working very, very hard to keep everyone safe." The pilgrim says she wanted to "be very careful and make sure I heard every instruction so that I wouldn't do wrong or - God forbid - get sent to the end of the line. That was my greatest fear."
The pilgrim says she waited about an hour outside and another hour inside to get her license photo taken. "It seemed like everyone before me was a teenager," she says. "They were very excited to take their picture and took their masks off before they were told. I saw some of the workers asking them to put their masks back on."
Photo: Leslie Pilgrim
As a law student, Pilgrim says she is "a very compliant citizen". So she thought, "I'll do exactly as I was told". When Pilgrim got to the top of the line, she stopped taking off her face mask. And when she stepped in front of the photo background, she still did not take off her mask.
"Nobody said anything and then I heard a worker say, 'Look at the camera' and there was a click," she says. "Then I realized he took the picture with my mask on, oh no." Pilgrim says the DMV employee realized his mistake and took her photo again without a mask, and she assumed there would be no problem.
But about a week later, she got her license in the mail - and showed her first masked photo. "I like to see the humor in everything, so I laughed," she says. "Of course that would happen to me." But, says Pilgrim, she was starting to wonder if this might be a legal problem for her. "In no case will this be used as valid ID when traveling or if I'm run over - you can't see 80 percent of my face," she recalls.
Pilgrim sent a photo of her license to her law school friends and asked if anyone knew if she would have a legal problem with it. "They all laughed at me," she says. "Nobody helped."
So she sent the photo to her father who is a lawyer. "He didn't help me either. He just laughed," she says. Instead, Pilgrim's father posted a picture of her license on Facebook, where it was discovered by a reporter.
She was contacted by someone from the California DMV not long afterwards. "They said that they were really sorry and that they didn't know how that happened," she says. "I feel a little embarrassed about it." (The Californian DMV did not respond to Yahoo Life's request for comment.)
Pilgrim says she felt "really bad" and adds, "I feel like the DMV is getting so much bullshit every day."
While Pilgrim says she was assured that her ID is valid, legal, and that it will be valid for the next five years, she doesn't want to risk having to show additional ID while traveling. So she has an appointment to renew her license again on Friday.
"I was told I was going to get a new license," she says. "I don't think they're going to take this one away from me - I hope they don't. I'm pretty much determined to keep it."
Read more from Yahoo Life:
The study makes it clear why women need to prioritize their own health
Why deaths from cardiovascular disease have risen during the pandemic
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