New Jersey nears benefit for drivers with drug allergies

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 7/18/2016

An effort to aid New Jersey truck drivers and motorists with drug allergies, such as penicillin, is nearing passage at the statehouse.

The Senate Transportation Committee voted unanimously to advance legislation to allow affected drivers to have the penicillin, or any other type of drug or medication, notation added to their operator’s license.

Assemblywoman Annette Quijano, D-Union, said about 5.4 million people throughout the country are allergic to penicillin.

“Driver’s licenses are the most likely place to look for vital information,” Quijano said in a news release. “It makes sense for it to include information that could save a life in an emergency.”

The Motor Vehicle Commission would be required to permit a license and identification card holder to voluntarily indicate that the person is allergic to penicillin or any other type of drug or medication.

Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly, D-Bergen/Passaic, said having a drug allergy listed on a victim’s driver’s license can eliminate confusion for a first responder.

Assemblyman Raj Mukherji, D-Hudson, added that the bill is “practical and sensible.”

“This is a very simple step that can help save lives.”

The bill’s next stop is the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee before moving to the full Senate. If approved, A846 would head to the governor’s desk. Assembly lawmakers already approved it by unanimous consent.

In recent years the state has also acted to implement other changes to benefit drivers with medical conditions.

One New Jersey law allows truckers and other drivers in the state with diabetes to voluntarily note the condition on their license or identification.
According to the New Jersey Department of Health, nearly 670,000 people in the state have the condition.

A separate law is intended to benefit drivers in the moments following vehicle wrecks. Counties and municipalities are allowed to establish a “Yellow Dot” program, which provides emergency responders with critical health information for drivers who sign up for the program.

Program materials include a yellow decal for the side window, a health information card, a yellow envelope, and program instructions.

To view other legislative activities of interest for New Jersey, click here.

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