Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Annette Quijano, John Wisniewski, Angelica Jimenez, Raj Mukherji and Benjie Wimberly to give drivers the option to denote drug allergies on their licenses gained approval from the General Assembly on Thursday.
About 5.4 million people in the United States suffer from an allergy to penicillin, for instance, the sponsors noted. The most serious allergic reactions can lead to anaphylactic response, which can be life-threatening.
“Driver’s licenses are the most likely place to look for vital information,” said Quijano (D-Union). “From an identification card, you can learn whether a person is an organ donor or even wears glasses. It makes sense for it to include information that could save a life in an emergency.”
The bill (A-846) would require the Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) to permit a license holder to voluntarily indicate that he or she is allergic to penicillin or any other type of drug or medication and, as a result, may be susceptible to an adverse reaction if treated with that drug or medication following a motor vehicle accident.
“Some individuals wear special bracelets or necklaces to indicate their allergy,” said Wisniewski (D-Middlesex). “Having this information on your driver’s license is another way to ensure medical personnel are aware of an allergy in an emergency situation.”
The designation is to be made in accordance with procedures prescribed by the MVC chief administrator.
“The intent of this legislation is to inform law enforcement officials or emergency medical professionals that a person is allergic to penicillin or any other type of drug or medication and, therefore, should not be treated with that drug or medication if incapacitated or otherwise unable to communicate as a result of an injury sustained in an accident,” said Jimenez (D-Hudson/Bergen).
“Indicating a drug allergy on driver’s licenses – which all motorists must carry while driving and which already includes other important personal information that can aid emergency personnel – is practical and sensible,” said Mukherji (D-Hudson). “This is a very simple step that can help save lives.”
“In an emergency situation that renders someone unable to speak, having a drug allergy listed on a victim’s driver’s license can eliminate confusion for a first responder,” said Wimberly (D-Bergen/Passaic). “When time is of the essence and split-second decisions must be made, that can be the difference between life and death.”
The measure received unanimous approval from the Assembly.