The vertical driver's license 7.10

Written by David Green.

Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land and other safety advocates are applauding the success of the state’s vertical driver’s license and ID card program, now in its fifth year.

The Vertical Identification Program, implemented in July 2003, helps to prevent minors from purchasing alcohol, tobacco and other age-restricted products. The Secretary of State’s Office issues driver’s licenses and ID cards in a vertical format to residents under 21. The design provides an instant visual cue for law enforcement and retailers due to its stark contrast to the horizontal licenses used by people 21 and older.

“Keeping young adults safe and healthy ensures a brighter future for them and for Michigan,” Land said. “The vertical ID program is doing its part to help teens avoid the enormous risks that come from alcohol and tobacco use. Its success is due to broad support from parents, policy-makers, safety advocates, retailers and law enforcement. I applaud their commitment to protect Michigan’s teens and families.”  

Everyone under 21 who has a driver’s license or ID card now has them in the vertical format. The state has been replacing horizontal licenses with the vertical ones when minors apply for a license renewal or replacement. More than 731,000 of Michigan’s 8.1 million driver’s licenses and ID cards are in vertical format.

One indicator of the program’s success is the steady decline in convictions under Michigan’s “zero tolerance” law. The law prohibits underage drivers from having any alcohol in their systems. In 2004, the first full year of the vertical license program, there were nearly 1,700 convictions. The number has fallen each year to about 1,340 in 2007.

In addition, Michigan’s recently released Drunk Driving Audit shows that all alcohol- and drug-related traffic fatalities are at their lowest point in more than 10 years.

The program has proved to be a valuable tool in law enforcement’s efforts to protect teens and keep roads safe, according to the Michigan Sheriffs’ Association (MSA), one of the initiative’s original supporters.

“The great part about this program is that it’s quantifiable,” said Terrence L. Jungel, MSA executive director. “Prevention is often difficult to measure, but with this issue, it’s all in the data. We know we have saved lives, and not just the teen drivers. We have also protected the motoring public who share the roadway with our teens.”   

Michigan retailers also advocated for the program and continue to be enthusiastic about its benefits. They still participate in the “We Check to Protect” public awareness campaign to highlight the vertical ID law. The campaign was unveiled by Land and vertical ID supporters in 2003.

“This is a great success story for business, law enforcement and the general public. Everyone wins,” said James P. Hallan, president and chief executive officer of the Michigan Retailers Association. 

The vertical license clearly lists the dates when the license-holder turns ages 18 and 21, and includes other security features such as the date of birth that overlaps a second photo of the license-holder, or “ghost” image, to prevent tampering with the date of birth.

Michigan’s vertical ID program was created by Public Acts 553 and 554 of 2002.

More than 20 states have vertical ID programs.

  • Shadow.salon
    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.carry.casket
    CARRYING—Riley Terry (blue jacket) and Mason Vaughn lead the way, carrying an empty casket outside to the hearse waiting at the curb. Morenci juniors and seniors visited Eagle Funeral Home last week to learn about the role of a funeral director and to understand the process of arranging for a funeral.
  • Front.lift
    MORENCI student Dalton McCowan puts everything into a dead lift attempt Saturday morning during the Wyseguy Push/Pull event. Lifters helped raise more than $1,600 for the family of the late Devin Wyse, a former Morenci power-lifter who graduated last year. Commemorative T-shirts are still available by contacting teacher Dan Hoffman.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2016