State Announces New Vertical Driver's Licenses For Minors

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Drivers younger than 21 will be issued vertical driver's licenses beginning Friday as the state tries to make it easier to identify minors attempting to buy alcohol or tobacco, the state announced Thursday.

"It's a telltale sign for underage," said Lt. Gov. Maureen O'Connor, who also is director of the Ohio Department of Public Safety. "We'll do anything we can to heighten alertness for servers."

The size of the license will be the same as the state's current horizontal design, which drivers 21 and older still will receive. The information on both styles of license will be the same.

The horizontal driver's licenses for people under age 21 will be phased out during the next five years.

Authorization for the change was included in the budget the Legislature approved last year.

In the past few years, states increasingly have tried to find ways to reduce underage alcohol and tobacco use by altering driver's licenses, which are used for identification to make such purchases, according to the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators in Arlington, Va.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)