Va. Plates Could Disclose Medical Conditions

Tags would alert police that a driver might be unable to comply with commands

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    A Virginia mother has come up with an idea to keep police from mistaking drivers with medical emergencies for those who’ve been drinking. Becky Jackson of Colonial Heights is the inspiration behind a proposed bill that would provide special tags for people with certain medical conditions, reports the Gainesville Times.

    The bill, sponsored by Virginia Delegate M. Kirkland Cox,  would let the Department of Motor Vehicles issue tags to people who suffer from conditions such as asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, heart disease and paralysis. The tags would serve to alert police officers that a driver might be unable to comply with commands. This would help "protect both police officers and the person who may be in the car," Lindsay Fisher, Cox's legislative assistant, told the Times.

    While Virginia offers dozens of special tags, the state generally won’t produce a special tag unless a minimum number of people order it. However, the medical plates "would be exempt from the standard 350 minimum-order requirement," said Cox. Drivers could buy them for a one-time $15 fee.

    It might be a great idea, but HB-420 could hit a few potholes on the road to passage this year. The General Assembly has to cut billions in order to balance the budget, and it could cost close to $30,000 to develop six different plates.

    Jackson, who has two diabetic children, believes the measure could be a life-saver by automatically alerting police or EMTs at the scene of an accident.

    A decade ago, Jackson says she placed a marker on the windshield of her diabetic son’s car. The marker displays his medical condition and contact information. Jackson says the bill could help other Virginians who suffer from illnesses that might hamper their ability to respond after an accident. "If this saves one person’s life, then I have won my cause," she said.