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Veterans status on driverís license

Published (4/10/2009)
By Mike Cook
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A person might be able to prove their veteran status by showing his or her driverís license.

Not only would it be a way to receive discounts at businesses, it could double as a way for police to deal with a potentially more serious issue.

Col. Eric Ahlness, government relations officer with the Department of Military Affairs, said the bill would help law enforcement recognize a veteran, approach them in a proper manner during a traffic stop and suggest help, if needed. He said a member of law enforcement brought forward the idea for the bill.

Rep. Larry Haws (DFL-St. Cloud) sponsors HF572 that would modify state driverís licenses and identification cards to allow for a military veteran designation.

ďIf we have a problem with a veteran, we have veteranís programs that specifically are for that veteran, and this is an opportunity to really identify that and say, ĎCan we get you to the proper place now?íĒ he said.

Approved April 2 by the House Transportation Finance and Policy Division, the bill awaits action by the full House. A companion, SF1014, sponsored by Sen. Tarryl Clark (DFL-St. Cloud), awaits action by the Senate Finance Committee.

Because the program would be opt-in, an applicant must request the designation at time of application or renewal, pay a required fee and provide a certified copy of discharge papers in order to obtain the designation.

The veteranís status would initially be noted only on the personís driving record that is viewable by the Department of Public Safety and law enforcement.

To keep the bill cost-neutral, the designation would not appear on the license or identification card until the state enters into a new contract for card design, at which point the designation could be part of the bidding process.

ďOur vendor charges $80,000 to make a change to the design of the card,Ē said Pat

McCormack, director of the DPS Driver and Vehicle Services Division.

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