July 29, 2014

New Georgia bill allows vets to state whether they suffer from PTSD on their driver’s license



You can tell a lot about a person by simply looking at their driver’s license.  Aside from the obvious home address and age, you can find out what color eyes a person has, whether they possess a commercial license, and whether they have corrective vision.  Our licenses are used everywhere from restaurants and bars to employment situations.  They are most often used, however, in law enforcement situations.  Police officers can use licenses to find out who a person is and whether he/she is in violation of the law.  For instance, if an individual should be driving with glasses or other corrective eyewear and they are not, they are violating the law according to their license.  In an effort to further assist law enforcement officials in Georgia, the legislature has passed a bill that allows veterans to designate if they suffer from post traumatic stress disorder on their licenses.

According to FoxNews, the bill, which is awaiting the Governor’s signature, allows veterans and military personnel to request a designation on their license attesting to their medical condition.  A physician would have to validate the illness and the individual would be required to sign a waiver of liability for the release of medical information.  Most importantly, however, is that the designation is completely voluntary on the part of the service member.  The idea behind this bill is to protect both law enforcement officials and veterans during encounters with each other.  For instance, if an individual is pulled over in a traffic stop, a police officer can see that the person may be suffering from a condition that requires extra caution.  Despite bipartisan sponsorship, many veterans’ organizations are vehemently against this bill.

A spokesperson from AMVETS noted that driver’s licenses are often used in other situations where the designation could be detrimental.  For example, someone may be trying to purchase alcohol or a gun, and a store owner may refuse them service or treat them differently because of a post traumatic stress disorder reference on their license.  Many organizations argue that individuals, including veterans, can have their day in court to dispute any traffic violation.  What’s more is that despite the bill’s background, individuals with post traumatic stress disorder would not be treated with leniency because of their condition.

As mentioned above, this program would be voluntary, which means that no one would be forced to share medical information until they desire.  It would be interesting to see if other bills were introduced that include the disclosure of health information, such as bipolar disorder or multiple sclerosis, on driver’s licenses.  How do you feel about this issue?  Do you think a voluntary bill regarding the disclosure of a mental illness on a driver’s license is a step in the right direction or a slippery slope?

About

Jonathan Ginsberg represents disabled men and women in SSI and SSDI claims filed with the Social Security Administration.

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