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Iowa adding emergency contact option to drivers’ licenses in 2022

Published: Dec. 30, 2021 at 8:55 PM CST
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COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (WOWT) - Law enforcement in Iowa will soon have a new tool to notify family members faster in case a loved one is involved in an emergency situation.

Starting the first of the year, Iowa residents will have the opportunity to provide emergency contact information on their application for a driver’s license.

If someone is involved in an emergency situation and isn’t able to talk to first-responders, information from the victim’s driver’s license will help law enforcement find the victims’ next of kin or emergency contacts.

“An individual can choose to provide up to two emergency contacts, they can choose one or they can choose not to provide an emergency contact,” said Melissa Gillett of the Iowa Department of Transportation.

The contact information provided to state officials will not be available to the general public, however.

“The information will not appear on your driver’s license,” Gillett said. “It will only be accessible to law enforcement for emergency situations the information cannot be assessed for any other purpose.”

Council Bluffs Police Sgt. Cory Woodward said more information will help law enforcement contact victims’ family members faster.

“We like to notify family as soon as possible especially in the social media age everything gets published whether it’s Facebook live or some of these other websites accidents get on the internet right away and we’d like to let the family know before that gets published and the first time they hear about it is through social media.”

Woodward said that with two major interstate systems running through Council Bluffs, that emergency contact information becomes even more valuable.

“If someone doesn’t live locally, maybe it’s a little bit harder. If they live in another area of the state, it’s a little bit harder to track down that information or contact information,” he said.

Under the new Iowa law, if drivers younger than age 18 decide to list emergency contacts, they are required to list at least one parent or guardian as an emergency contact.

People who are listed as an emergency contact do have the right to opt out of that responsibility.

Iowa will begin collecting emergency information on Jan. 3.

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