Even if it comes from a secure, centralized location, isn’t sending a driver license by mail less secure than handing it to the applicant?

No. The mailing process used to send Driver’s Licenses and IDs is similar to that used by the financial services industry to send your credit and debit cards. There is no indication on the outside of the envelope that it contains a driver license or ID card. If a license can’t be delivered, it will be returned to the DMV. Also, mailing the driver license and ID card helps DMV ensure applicants provide us with legitimate addresses.