On Wednesday, Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill requiring the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to change the requirements needed for disabled veterans to get a special disability license plate.
Assembly Bill 408, authored by Assemblyman Jim Frazier (D-Fairfield), would require the DMV to accept a certificate from either a a County Veteran Service Officer (CVSO), the US Department of Veterans Affairs, or the California Department of Veteran Affairs (CalVet) saying that the veteran in question is disabled. This would replace the current DMV law that requires solely a US Department of Veterans Affairs proof of disability certificate. A certificate of disability from a medical professional will also still be accepted.
Assemblyman Frazier wrote AB 408 as a way for veterans to get a quicker turnaround time on receiving their disability plates. As the new methods still protect from cases of veteran disability fraud due to all three certification options requiring military record access and disability fraud due to the DMV’s disability requirements, the bill was designed specifically for veterans to get disability plates quicker without a decline in service or quality.
The quicker turnaround time from a non-US Veterans Affairs source was needed according to the bill because of certification going through offices outside of California in recent years, which led to longer waits and a rise of incorrect documentation being sent.
“On behalf of all the men and women who serve in our Armed Forces, I’m very pleased that Governor Newsom signed AB 408, which continues to build on the promise that we have made to our veterans,” said Assemblyman Frazier on Wednesday. “Veterans shouldn’t have to wait months on end to see results from a system that owes them a huge debt of gratitude. This bill ensures that they will get the timely services that they deserve.”
Despite being a usually divisive transportation bill, there was no known opposition to AB 408. The bill unanimously passed through the Assembly and Senate, with the Senate passing it 39-0 days before the session deadline.
“We needed this bill badly,” said veteran advocate Neil Duncan to the Globe. “I had vets coming to me and asking why it was taking months to get all of this straightened out.”
“A disability plate may not seem like a lot to some people, but it can be the world to a vet who has trouble walking. We have vets from Korea down to Afghanistan who drive in this state, and this is just a little change of injustice for them for what they gave.”
“Any politicians that would have voted against this would have had a lot of explaining to do to a lot of people.”
AB 408 is due to become active on January 1, 2021.