Design for Minnesota's new driver's licenses revealed, including vertical cards for under 21s

They'll be horizontal for most, but vertical for under 21s.
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Bars will find it easier to spot underage drinkers thanks to new designs to Minnesota's driver's licenses, which will become available later this year.

The state has been forced to alter the license design it's had since 2004, adding extra security features to become compliant with federal Real ID guidelines, despite resisting the change for several years.

On Monday, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) released the new designs for its standard, enhanced and Real ID compliant licenses, which will be issued for renewals and new applications from Aug. 6 onwards.

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And one of the most striking aspects of the licenses is the difference between those given to drivers aged 21 and over and those younger than 21.

Under 21s will get a vertical license (seen at the top of this page), unlike the typical horizontal cards, which the DPS says will make it "easier for businesses to identify those not able to make purchases that are prohibited to minors."

As with Real ID, Minnesota is playing catch-up with this feature. Wisconsin introduced vertical IDs for under 21s in 2015.

The new cards also feature State of Minnesota branding and colors, with the background featuring the Mississippi River, a canoeist and a pine forest.

A Real ID-compliant driver's license.

A Real ID-compliant driver's license.

New security features include a "ghost image" of your license picture in the lower right of the card, and an embedded image of a walleye that can be seen by holding the card up to the light.

Minnesotans will be able to apply for Real ID-compliant cards in October 2018 – you'll need one of these IDs to get on domestic flights and enter federal buildings from Oct. 1, 2020 onwards.

But don't worry, you don't have to replace your existing card until it expires, the DPS says the current design will stay in circulation for the next four years.

If you choose to get a Real ID-compliant card before your existing license expires, you'll be charged an early renewal fee.

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