NEW: Rep. Wants ‘Veteran’ Designation on RI Driver’s License
Tuesday, January 03, 2012
It is not possible, says Rep. Peter Martin (D-Dist. 75, Newport), to give enough tribute to those who have given military service to the nation.
“Whether it was the World Wars, Vietnam or, more recently, Iraq and Afghanistan, these individuals have laid it on the line to protect our freedoms, and they are all a constant source of pride to our nation,” said Representative Martin.
In an effort to further recognize Rhode Island’s thousands of military veterans, Representative Martin is introducing legislation to give them the option of having the word “Veteran” appear on their state drivers’ licenses.
“The Division of Motor Vehicles currently allows for specialty license plates, honoring qualified veterans,” said Representative Martin. “The intent of my legislation is to extend that designation of veteran status to the driver’s license of any honorably discharged Rhode Island service person who would be proud to carry one.”
Representative Martin will introduce two bills today, the opening day of the 2012 General Assembly session. The two bills accomplish the sole purpose of providing for a veteran designation on a driver’s license, but are both necessary because they each amend a different section of law.
As proposed in the Martin bills, the designation will be based on the presentation of a Certificate of Release from Active Duty for honorably discharged veterans. The legislation proposes a $6.50 fee for any veteran with a valid license to have the existing license re-issued with the “Veteran” designation. (The $6.50 fee is comparable to the cost now associated with replacing lost or damaged licenses.)
Representative Martin said that while pride and honor are a large part of the reason to allow veterans to display their status, the specially designated licenses provide other benefits. “They can provide valuable information to first responders in the case of a medical emergency, they will give veterans a convenient ID to use to take advantage of special discounts and incentives offered to former service members, and they will help the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide benefits they are eligible to receive,” said Representative Martin.
The bills are being introduced to bring Rhode Island into parity with nearby Massachusetts, which last year enacted similar legislation that took effect January 1. Representative Martin credits Ed Kane, a member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Advisory Committee, for pushing for the driver’s license designation, and said he has also spoken about the proposal with former DMV Interim Director Lisa Holley, who has expressed her support.
“This may seem trivial to some, but I can assure you that many, many veterans – although they don’t wear their emotions on their sleeves – are proud of their service to our country and to their fellow citizens,” said Representative Martin, who is a member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. “This is a small way to do something very meaningful for very many of our fellow citizens.”