Community Resources Education

Must Have Driver’s License Enhancements

Renewing your license? Whether it's a Real or Enhanced ID, don't forget to add a Living Will/Advanced Directive designation and update your emergency contact.

So, apologies for the extended absence. I’ve recently moved to Minnesota to pursue a professional opportunity, and when I’m not panic-shopping at mostly mask-less super-centers, which, frankly is as close to a zombie apocalypse supply mission as I ever want to get, I’ve been cooling my heels in local DMV purgatory.

I swear, in my most humble of opinions, the only torture more exquisite than physically visiting the DMV, is trying to find crucial information on their website in order to prepare for said visit. Especially when I can see the friggin’ answer within the dang Google search snippet, but when I click on it, poof, it’s vanished! Why-eee!?

It’s very frustrating.

Anyways, I know. Water is wet and innavigable government websites are hardly shocking. However, the information that they’re effectively hiding is!

I found out almost completely by accident that Minnesota allows its residents to have a special designation on their identification to note whether there’s a Living Will or Advanced Directive on file. How practical! But wait, there’s more: In case of an emergency, residents can also choose to register an emergency contact with the DMV.

That’s genius! My mind? Blown.

Now, at first blush this seems like no big deal. It’s the kind of thing that one would unquestionably believe has always been a capital “T” thing, like 911 or the Mets choking. They’re inevitabilities of civilized society.

Just kidding, I don’t give a shit about sports and 911 wasn’t invented until 1968.

If you can sense my sarcasm, that’s because this ID designation and emergency contact initiative is actually not remotely national programming, and hardly qualifies as even a lowercase “t” thing. How is that possible?

I’m not 100% sure, but I am going to blame it on state-level bureaucracy. Though all states have some legislation accepting the use of Advance Directives, not all of them recognize Living Wills, like New York, Massachusetts, and Michigan, among others. However, since all states are now requiring folks to upgrade their identification to Real or Enhanced ID’s by Fall 2021, there’s no better time to take advantage of whatever your state has to offer! I mean, having this information available to first responders and medical personnel is a fantastic offensive power-move to protect yourself and your loved ones from wily blood relations that should not or cannot be trusted with your literal life.

Outside of Minnesota, there are only four other states that offer designations for Living Wills/Advance Directive and emergency contact registration:

  • Hawaii
  • Iowa
  • Ohio
  • South Dakota (specifies Living Will and/or POA)

Obviously, this list is depressingly short, but for those of us for whom it is an option it would be really dumb not to take advantage of it, whether or not it’s exactly true… yet.

What? You want me to lie? To the authorities? If that is what it takes, then, yes.

I’ve heard that visualizing your goals is one of the best ways to achieve them. Now that its printed on your ID, you’ll have no choice but to force yourself to finish an unfun adult chore and create basic end-of-life planning for yourself.

Here’s a database of free, basic Advance Directives for every state to get you started. You’re welcome.

There’s approximately 17,250 car accidents per day in the US. Don’t play yourself; Cover your ass!

Don’t happen to live in any of the five states listed above? There’s still a little something for you. While many states, including yours, don’t have a license designations for Advanced Directives, you can at least register an emergency contact. Now, the databases differ depending on state priorities, but at minimum you should be able to list at least one priority contact person who should be contacted in the event something unfortunate befalls you.

Find your state below to add your emergency contact: 

Still don’t see your state?

Don’t sweat it. Bypass government registries, pass “Go,” and head over to the Next-of-Kin Registry (NOKR), a non-partisan, non-profit, international database that has been utilized in every major emergency and/or disaster since 2004.

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