Legislation introduced by Sen. Lisa Baker (R-20) would make it a crime for Pennsylvania motorists to falsely claim “veteran” status on their driver’s license application.
Senate Bill 1405 addresses concerns that surfaced after the enactment of Act 176 of 2012, which allowed veterans to obtain an honorary “veteran” designation on their driver’s license. The designation, long sought by veterans’ groups, makes it easier to identify their eligibility for many discounts, programs and services.
While the commonwealth designed the self-certification process to be simple for veterans — especially older veterans who may not have easy access to their formal discharge papers — some veterans expressed concern that it was too easy for someone to falsely claim veteran status.
“The Department of Military and Veterans Affairs currently conducts random checks of those applicants who self-certify as a veteran, but an additional deterrent was needed,” Baker said. “It is tragic that some dishonest Pennsylvanians have twisted this simple way to honor veterans who served this nation into an ill-advised way to serve themselves.”
Reflecting penalties for “unsworn falsification to authorities,” the bill would set the penalty for misrepresentation at $300, or between 30 and 90 days in prison.
“Sadly, there are a few people in our society today who would steal the valor earned by someone in uniform,” Baker said. “This bill aims to deter fraud and protect the ‘veteran’ label for those genuine American heroes who have earned our gratitude, our freedom, and more through their service and sacrifice.”
The Senate unanimously approved the measure on June 29 and sent it over to the House where it’s been referred to that body’s Transportation Committee.
Andrew M. Seder