Google The Unplanned Homeschooler: Three good reasons to renew your driver's license

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Three good reasons to renew your driver's license

When I presented my license at the last local election, the volunteer who checked it reminded me that I was due for a renewal soon. With the extremely volatile Presidential election looming, I don't want to miss my opportunity to cast a vote because I let my driver's license expire. 

In Oklahoma, as in several other states, a valid state or federally issued photo ID, such as a driver's license, must be presented in order to cast a ballot. And in Oklahoma, valid means not expired until after the date of the election.

Preserving my right to vote is a very good reason to make sure and renew my license, but four years ago I discovered an even more important reason, when my recently expired license caused unexpected trouble for both me and my daughter.

Valid ID required for filling certain prescriptions

I was actually quite embarrassed and distressed when I learned that I had accidentally let my driver’s license lapse. Yes, I am a procrastinator, and the mistake was my own fault, but my inadvertent error put me in a difficult position when my daughter was released from the hospital after breaking her arm. 

You see, because I had an expired license and no other applicable photo ID on hand, I was unable to pick up my daughter’s pain medication from the pharmacy, and if not for the kindness of another mom, she might have suffered for some time before I could have gotten the prescription filled.

Both the federal government and the states have cracked down in recent years regarding the identification required to fill prescription pain medications and drugs commonly used to manufacture methamphetamine. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a growing number of states require identification in order to dispense various medications. 

The reasoning behind the new requirements makes perfect sense. In order to combat illegal drugs, an acceptable form of photo identification is now required at many pharmacies across the country. The rules vary from state to state. In Oklahoma, pharmacists are required to obtain a valid photo identification before dispensing any controlled, dangerous substance.

What constitutes a valid identification?

Unfortunately for me, the pharmacist informed me that my identification was no longer valid because it had expired. It didn’t matter that my picture clearly matched my face. It didn’t matter that the name and address clearly matched my insurance card and the information in the pharmacy’s computer. It didn’t matter that I had filled prescriptions at other branches dozens of times over the years, always under the same name.

Amazingly, it didn’t matter that my daughter was still wearing not one, but two hospital identification bracelets that also matched the data on our insurance card, one of which listed my name as well. Nor did it matter that my daughter’s arm was in a cast, she was clearly in pain, and the prescriptions came from the children’s hospital down the street. Because my driver’s license was expired by a little more than three weeks, it might as well have come from a Cracker Jack box.

In many states, you'll face the same predicament at the pharmacy counter and the voting booth. Valid means not expired, not even by one day.

Painful ramifications you might face

I actually cried at the pharmacy counter, because I knew my daughter’s pain had returned since we left the hospital and there was no way I could get to a DMV before closing time to get the license renewed that evening. If only the pharmacy had checked my license when I first dropped the prescription off to be filled, I could have rushed to get the ID renewed before picking it up. But by the time they had it ready, it was too late. 

The clerk told me I could have any friend or family member with a valid ID pick up the prescription for me, but being 70 miles from home, I didn’t have any friends or family nearby to ask. Thankfully, as I stepped out of line, another mom stepped up by my side and said she would be happy to be my friend. The pharmacist allowed her to pick up my daughter’s prescription and I thanked her gratefully. Moments later, my daughter took both her pain medicine and anti-nausea pill, and we were soon on the road.

Fortunately, we didn't run into any other problems on the way home, and I was able to get my license renewed without ever being stopped for a traffic violation or getting into an accident. Driving without a valid license is, of course, against the law and can result in all sorts of problems, from denial of insurance coverage to fines or jail. 
For those reasons, if for no others, check the date on your driver's license and make sure you set a reminder to renew it on time. 

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