Emergency contact option coming to state-issued IDs

By: Sarah Wojcik, | Shelby - Utica News | Published February 17, 2016

SHELBY TOWNSHIP — On Feb. 2, Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation into law that will allow Michigan residents — if they so choose — to add emergency contact information to driver’s licenses and state identification cards.

State Rep. Peter Lucido, R-Shelby Township, introduced the legislation in April 2015 to embed machine-readable emergency contact information in driver’s licenses and identification cards from the Michigan secretary of state, effective Jan. 1, 2017.

House Bills 4459 and 4460, now Public Acts 4 and 5 of 2016, are meant to aid first responders in quickly determining a point of contact in the event of an accident. The votes on the bills were unanimous in both the state House and Senate.

 Gov. Rick Snyder poses with state Rep. Peter Lucido, R-Shelby Township, in Lansing Feb. 2 after signing into law legislation Lucido introduced that will allow Michigan residents to add emergency contact information to driver’s licenses and state identification cards.

Gov. Rick Snyder poses with state Rep. Peter Lucido, R-Shelby Township, in Lansing Feb. 2 after signing into law legislation Lucido introduced that will allow Michigan residents to add emergency contact information to driver’s licenses and state identification cards.

Photo provided by Jane Diegel

Michiganders will be able to enter the emergency contact information and change it whenever they want at the secretary of state’s website, www.michigan.gov/sos.

Lucido said he originally came up with the idea to address the population of aging Michigan residents who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, or who just become confused. Then he expanded the concept.

“Once first responders get to an accident and see (accident victims) are unable to speak for themselves, either because of shock or because they’re unconscious, now police can run their license or state ID to get an emergency contact,” Lucido said. “It’s a closed-loop website, so the information is privately kept.”

Pass codes on cellphones sometimes block first responders from finding emergency contacts, he said.

“This is the least intrusive, it’s voluntary, and this works,” he said. “It’s called common-sense legislation.”

Lucido worked with Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson and a team of legislators to move the legislation forward.

He said he was not aware of such legislation in other states, but he would like to see similar legislation become a national standard.

“If a person doesn’t want to get a driver’s license, they can get a state ID if they don’t want to drive,” Lucido said. “This will still give them that right to get an emergency contact on their ID.”

Fred Woodhams, a spokesman for the Michigan secretary of state, said the state is developing the programming to add emergency contact information to state-issued IDs and that it will be completed by the end of the year.

“It should be helpful for Michigan residents, and we look forward to putting it in place,” Woodhams said. “We appreciate all the work Rep. Lucido has done to move the legislation and help protect Michigan residents.”

Woodhams added that there will be no charge to add an emergency contact and, if residents decide to change their emergency contact, the changes will be in place within the next day.

For more information, call the secretary of state at (888) 767-6424 or Rep. Peter Lucido’s office at (888) 642-4737.