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Science, Health, Tech

Medical indicators now optional on state IDs

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Sophia Schmidt, Delaware Public Media
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DMV employee Janine Valenti was the first Delawarean to add a medical indicator to her driver's license

Delawareans with medical conditions like epilepsy, diabetes or PTSD can now have those conditions noted on their state ID or driver’s license.

DelDOT officials say the purpose is to alert first responders of a person’s medical conditions in the event of an emergency—and help officers avoid jumping to conclusions about a person’s state.

 

DMV employee Janine Valenti has Multiple Sclerosis.

“One of the issues I have is balance issues. I could never walk a straight line,” she said. “So if I got pulled over by a police officer and they asked me to do a sobriety test, I probably wouldn’t pass it.”

She got the first Delaware driver’s license with a medical indicator last Wednesday.

State Rep. Valerie Longhurst was a champion of the change. She says one of her constituents reached out to her with a story about their son.

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Credit Sophia Schmidt, Delaware Public Media
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State Rep. Valerie Longhurst, DelDOT Sec. Jennifer Cohan, Director of the Delaware Division of Public Health Karyl Rattay and other advocates pose next to a sample driver's license with a medical indicator

“He was high-functioning autistic, and they had pulled him over for speeding slightly. The boy did not know how to react and he overreacted,” she said. “And it just kind of went downhill from there … If this was on the card the police officer would have known, and to me that’s a human rights issue.”

ADA Coordinator on the State Council for Persons with Disabilities, John McNeal, says the new medical indicator is empowering.

“This is a great gateway to people knowing that they can go out and have full participation in the community and having another tool that breaks down a barrier,” he said.  

State Police spokesman Sgt. Richard Bratz adds a medical indicator on an ID can save first responders valuable seconds when treating a person who’s unconscious.

Conditions could include anything from medication allergies, to diabetes or psoriasis.

If a cardholder’s condition is not listed, they can fill in an “other” category.

The addition of a medical indicator to a new driver’s license or state ID is free and optional.

According to DelDOT, Delaware joins 10 other states with medical or disability indicators on state IDs.

 

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