Vertical Driver's License Helps with Age Verification!

Check to Protect LogoWe Check to Protect - Vertical Identification Program:  On July 1, 2003, the Michigan Department of State launched its "We Check to Protect!" public awareness campaign highlighting a new law designed to keep Michigan's youth safe on and off the roads. Spearheaded by Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land, and supported by a broad coalition of government, retail, safety and law-enforcement representatives, the campaign sends a strong message of responsibility and public safety.

The new law requires those under the age of 21 to be issued a vertical (portrait) style driver's license. The "We Check to Protect" vertical identification program reminds teens, parents, businesses and law enforcement that identification is required and will be checked on all purchases that are restricted by age, such as alcohol and tobacco products.

Why the law is important:
This innovative measure goes a long way toward protecting the health and safety of Michigan's youth. The distinctive vertical format of these licenses and ID cards highlights the underage status of the holder.

All new state identification cards and driver's licenses will now clearly indicate the date(s) that the cardholder turns 18 and/or 21. Previously issued state identification cards and driver's licenses only indicated that the cardholder was "under 21."

It also provides a tamper-resistant design that gives residents, law enforcement, retailers and bankers a cutting-edge age verification and licensing system.

The new card gives parents peace of mind and the confidence that comes from knowing that their kids are carrying an identification card developed specifically to help ensure their well-being. And, it is a valuable tool that helps merchants and retailers avoid financially devastating liability concerns that can result if a minor attempts to purchase age-restricted items.

Photo Sample of vertical license

Under 21 - Vertical License 

Sample of traditional horizontal license

Under 21 - Vertical License

Supported by:
This law received widespread support from a variety of groups and organizations including:

Michigan Department of State
7-Eleven Stores
Associated Food Dealers of Michigan
Detroit Police Officers Legislative Commission


Lansing Police Department
Michigan Association of Broadcasters
Michigan Association of Police Organizations
Michigan Beer & Wine Wholesalers Association
Michigan Coalition to Reduce Underaged Drinking
Michigan Distributors and Vendors Association
Michigan Food and Beverage Association
Michigan Fraternal Order of Police
Michigan Gaming Control Board
Michigan Grocers Association
Michigan Licensed Beverage Association
Michigan Liquor Control Commission
Michigan Petroleum Association
Michigan Restaurant Association
Michigan Retailers Association
Michigan State Police
Michigan State Police Troopers Association
Michigan Sheriffs' Association
Miller Brewing Company
Mothers Against Drunk Driving
Police Officers Association of Michigan
Service Station Dealers Association
Student Leadership Services
Students Against Drunk Driving
Thomas Husband & Associates


The Law:
Public Acts 553 and 554 of 2002 amended Michigan law to require the Michigan Department of State to issue state identification cards and driver's licenses for residents under the age of 21 in a vertical (portrait) format.

>    We Check to Protect Brochure (PDF File)