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Tennessee adopts new vertical license bill to stop underage DUI

Tennessee recently became the 48th state to approve the requirement of vertical-oriented driver’s licenses for all drivers under the age of 21. This law will take effect in July 2018 — only for new licenses issued after that date. Various interest groups, including Mothers Against Drunk Driving, law enforcement and others welcome the state’s effort to reduce sales of alcohol to juveniles and, hopefully, fewer cases of underage DUI.

The aim of authorities with the vertical licenses instead of horizontal ones, as are carried by adults, is to make it easier for retailers, restaurateurs and others to quickly identify underage individuals during service. Conflicting opinions exist about the efficacy of these licenses, with as many supporters as those who believe it is not worth the effort. Although everybody agrees that even if it saves only one life, it will be worthwhile, some say the system was only effective for short periods after introduction in other states.

Those who doubt the vertical license system say teenagers who want to obtain alcohol will find ways to do so. Researchers say it does not take long for teens to learn which retailers and establishments disregard the need to check the ages of their customers. It is said that no studies have been conducted to ascertain whether fewer underage DUI crashes have occurred in the other 47 states that issue vertical licenses.

However, teenagers in Tennessee will likely continue to experiments with alcohol, and many will continue to submit to peer pressure. These are often the circumstances that lead to arrests for underage DUI, which can have devastating consequences. For this reason, many parents seek the assistance of experienced DUI defense attorneys if their children face DUI-related charges. A lawyer will typically do whatever is possible to limit the adverse consequences of such charges.

Source: knoxnews.com, “Lawmaker hopes vertical driver’s license reduces underage alcohol sales, but will it?,” Don Jacobs, July 22, 2017

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