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February 11, 2003

Marshall bill passes Senate

From: Danville Register and Bee, VA - 11 Feb 2003

y GEORGE WHITEHURST / Register & Bee staff writer
Feb 11, 2003

RICHMOND, Va. - The state Senate gave final approval Tuesday to legislation from Del. Danny Marshall, R-Danville, to help the hearing and speech impaired by altering their driver's licenses to explain their conditions.

By a 40-0 margin, the Senate passed the measure with no debate as part of a block vote.

Under current law, driver's license applicants who are diabetic can have their condition listed on their licenses if they present a signed statement from a physician.

Marshall's bill simply adds the words "hearing or speech impaired" to that clause of the statute.

Marshall entered the bill after hearing from a woman whose hearing-impaired son was involved in a misunderstanding with a law enforcement officer because he had trouble answering the officer's questions.

"What she wanted was a sticker to go on the back of the car," Marshall said. "I talked to DMV - and the problem they had was they didn't know how many of these they would sell. So, they thought it could make it cost-prohibitive if they didn't know how many they would sell."

Department of Motor Vehicles officials suggested placing the impairment designation on driver's licenses.

"It kind of lets DMV see how many people are out there that will be able to get this, and next year, if it's a large enough number, we could come back next year and have a (sticker) bill," Marshall said. "One of the things I was trying to do was take care of this lady's needs, but also to try to look after DMV, which like other agencies, is under a cash crunch."

Marshall picked up as a co-patron Henrico County Del. John O'Bannon, MD, who has heard plenty of similar tales from his patients.

"In my neurology practice I have had examples where one of my patients had gotten stopped or had had an experience in dealing with the traffic world in which their impairment had presented a problem to them in communicating," he said. "I think this a very logical and reasonable thing to do, and that's why I chose to support it."

The measure now heads to Gov. Mark R. Warner, who can sign it, alter it or veto it.

Contact George Whitehurst at or at (434) 793-2311, Ext. 3047.

© 2003 Media General