MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- A Minnesota driver's license reveals more personal information than a jabbering talk-show guest. Sen. Dick Day of Owatonna wants to add more.
Day, the Senate Republican minority leader, introduced a bill last week that would put coded notations on the licenses of registered sex offenders. He hopes the coding would help track down the more than 2,000 registered sex offenders whom Minnesota authorities can no longer find.
The license is already a plastic plethora of personal information.
There's an "M" to alert emergency medical providers of bearers' diabetes, epilepsy or other health condition. A "P" notes that the state has on file the licensees' wishes for care of their children in case they become incapacitated. An "L" and "T" entitle the disabled and elderly to discounts on transit fares in the Twin Cities area. Also listed are the dates of the 18th and 21st birthdays of young drivers. And there are notations for organ donors and "living will" health-care directives.
Public Safety Commissioner Rich Stanek, has spoken in favor of putting special markings on the licenses of temporary foreign visitors, a concept implemented last year as an anti-terrorism measure. But he has taken no position on Day's plan.
"How much more information do they want on that thing?" wondered Kevin Smith, Stanek's spokesman. "Where do you stop it if you start with something like this?"
No one knows where it'll stop. But it started in 1934, when the first state driver's licenses were issued for 25 cents to heads of households and were good for everyone in the family. Photos weren't added until 1972. 1994 saw the debut of digitized photos and signatures, holograms, bar codes and data-bearing magnetic strips.
"The driver's license has assumed a role beyond traffic safety, and both government and private entities rely on the license as an accurate piece of personal identification," said Reed Morris in a review of license practices last year for the National Conference of State Legislatures.
After the Sept. 11 attacks, Morris said, nearly every state considered ways to bolster the security of the driver's license.
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