Local Politics

House backs vertical license for young drivers

Posted June 4, 2008 12:27 p.m. EDT
Updated June 18, 2008 5:40 p.m. EDT

— The state House voted Wednesday to approve a plan change the layout of North Carolina-issued driver's licenses from the traditional horizontal format to a vertical format for people who can't legally buy alcohol.

The format would help store clerks and bartenders to easily identify who is underage.

"It's just another common-sense idea that I think can ultimately cut down on the amount of alcohol that's sold to underage people," said Rep. Dale Folwell, R-Forsyth, one of the bill's primary sponsors.

The state's Alcohol Law Enforcement Division conducted 700 compliance checks this year and found that underage customers were able to buy alcohol almost 18 percent of the time. More than half of those purchases were made after the customer presented identification which showed they were not 21 years old, according to the ALE.

The new format would mean vendors have no excuse for selling to underage buyers, Folwell said. State driver's licenses and identification cards are already color-coded to show whether someone is under 18 or under 21.

"With a vertical driver's license, no longer will people be able to say I was colorblind and I didn't see the colors ... or that I couldn't calculate the age," Folwell said.

Several business and retail organizations support the bill, as does the state's Division of Motor Vehicles.

The plan needs Senate approval before it can be passed to the governor to be signed into law.