Rocky the ringtail has been keeping Arizona driver licenses and ID cards secure since 2014

Rocky the ringtail has been keeping Arizona driver licenses and ID cards secure since 2014

By Alexis Potter / ADOT Communications
September 15, 2023
Rocky the ringtail on the 2023 Arizona driver license design

Sketch of Rocky the ringtailDid you know that you’ve likely been carrying around a picture of a ringtail in your wallet? If you’ve gotten an Arizona driver license or ID card in the past few years, look closely and you’ll see an illustration of a ringtail, the official state mammal of Arizona.

Ringtails are recognizable by their distinctive black-and-white striped tails and are often mistaken for cats because of their size, but these carnivores are actually members of the raccoon family, according to the Phoenix Zoo

Although ringtails are common in Arizona and the southwest, not many people have come across them in nature because they are nocturnal and often hidden away. 

However, it isn’t hard to find one particular ringtail, named Rocky, on your driver license. And Rocky isn’t just there to look cute, he was first included as a security feature in the driver license design released in 2014. 

That same year, ADOT held a contest where people could submit and vote on possible names for this little guy. The name Rocky came out on top thanks to a girl in Peoria named Rory, who was seven years old at the time and had made naming the ringtail an item on her “bucket list.”

Rory was awarded a stuffed ringtail, a special ROCKY license plate and a pink ADOT safety hat for her naming skills. We don’t know where Rory is now, but we’re wishing her luck with the rest of her bucket list!

Since then, Rocky has been spotted at at least one ADOT construction site. In 2017, he paid a visit to crews to check on the Ina Road/Interstate-10 project and hung out under the lattice of rebar that would become the surface of a new bridge. 

After making sure everything was up to his standards, Rocky ran across the future lanes of eastbound I-10 and safely disappeared into the desert, leaving crews to finish their work.

Along with Rocky’s unique design on driver licenses and ID cards, which was created to prevent duplication and counterfeiting, other security features on the new design released this year include 100% polycarbonate material that is impervious to tampering, laser engraved information and photo, and an image of a saguaro cactus or ponderosa pine tree depending on the angle the card is held.

So whenever you use your driver license or ID card, take a look at Rocky the ringtail and remember that you always have a little friend by your side