HELPLINE NUMBER: (443) 330-5341

PFA Tips: Navigating the MVA for State IDs, Driver’s Licenses, and Other Services

By Shelly McLaughlin, Pathfinders for Autism

Download a printable version of “Navigating the MVA for State IDs, Driver’s Licenses, and other Services”

I forget more before breakfast than most people forget in 5 days. I even have days that I wake up and I’m not sure I even remember my own name. For those days I’m grateful I have my driver’s license as a reminder. And like most people, I take my license for granted – something that I’m sure most of us don’t do when it comes to our children. So if we’re going to think about State IDs and Driver’s Licenses, and Maryland’s Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA),what do we need to know?

Mason holding State ID
Why does my child need a Maryland State ID?
This may be something you don’t think about because we tend to associate identification with a Driver’s License. But if your young adult or adult child does not have a Driver’s License, there are several reasons why your son or daughter needs a State ID:

  • Formal identification communicating who you are in case of an accident or emergency
  • To open a bank account
  • To board an airplane
  • Some towns and cities require ID
  • Tightened security, so many individual places are requiring ID
  • Most jobs require ID
  • Hospitals – ex. Dads can’t get in to see their newborn babies without ID

What is the minimum age a person can apply for a Maryland State ID?

ANY age, including infants.

What documents do I need to bring if my child is UNDER the age of 18 and is applying for a State ID?

  • Parent’s Driver’s License as proof of residence
  • Child’s Social Security card
  • Child’s birth certificate – Must be BIRTH CERTIFICATE and NOT CERTIFICATE of BIRTH
  • Parent will need to co-sign the State ID application

What documents do I need to bring if my child is age 18 or OLDER, is a dependent, and is applying for a State ID?

  • Parents need to bring copy of 1040 tax return to prove the child is a dependent. (The 1040 must not be older than 18 months.)
  • Child’s Social Security card
  • Child’s birth certificate – Must be BIRTH CERTIFICATE and NOT CERTIFICATE of BIRTH

What documents do I need to bring if my child is age 18 or OLDER, is not a dependent, and is applying for a State ID? 

Will we leave the MVA with our ID card?
If your child is under age 18, you will leave the MVA that day with your ID card. However, ID cards are mailed to individuals age 18 or older.

How long are State ID cards good for?
For anyone under the age of 65, ID cards are good for 5 years. For persons 65 and older, they are good for 8 years.

Can I go to an MVA Express to apply for a State ID or do I need to go to a Full-Service MVA office?

You can go to either a Full-Service or Express office to obtain a State ID.

Signing in that little box
Mason signing ID box

  • If your child has difficulty with fine motor skills, it may be difficult for him to sign in that little box. Practice at home. Draw a box that your child can practice in. The dimensions are 3 ½” x 1″.
  • The parent is allowed to guide the child while signing.
  • There is an “Unable to Sign” box that can be checked. However, that is not recommended as some places won’t accept the ID card as valid without the signature. The signature can be as minimal as an “x”.

What if my child has an ID but now wants his Learner’s Permit?
Your child will not need to bring all of the documents that were required to obtain the ID – just the ID card as long as it isn’t expired. You have up to one year to renew an ID card once you hit the expiration date. Otherwise, you will need to bring in all of the original required documents.

Will my child be given additional time to take the written driver’s test if he is granted additional time on his IEP or 504?

The written test is 15 minutes, however the oral test is not timed. If the person is not able to take the written test, the first option is that the questions are read by a computer and also appear on screen for the person to read. If the person is unable to do the test with the computer, the questions can be read by someone at the MVA but you must make an appointment. You must also attempt to take the test using the computer first.

Does my child need to disclose he has Autism to obtain a Driver’s License?

No. To review the list of required reportable conditions, please visit the Maryland Driver’s Manual (reportable conditions on page 38).  If a clinician is concerned about an individual’s ability to drive, they can use this form to refer a patient to MVA’s medical review process.  HIPPA laws prevent Autism from being listed on your Driver’s License or driver’s record, nor can your insurance company be notified of your condition.

Can my child register to vote at the MVA?

Yes. Voter registration forms are available at MVA offices.

Do your child’s behavioral issues make you eligible for disability parking tags?

Possibly. Your child’s doctor will need to submit the Application for Maryland Parking Placards/License Plates for Individuals with a Disability.

Adding Emergency Contacts to your Driver’s License and State ID

The MVA has an emergency contact option to Maryland Driver’s Licenses and State IDs. Marylanders can add three emergency contacts to their license or ID so police will know who to call if an accident occurs. The emergency contact information is stored electronically on an individual’s license or ID and will be available only to authorized law enforcement personnel. Add emergency contacts through the MVA website. (From that link, select “Emergency Contacts” from the left side menu bar.) To perform this Emergency Contact Information transaction, you must be able to provide your Driver’s License or State ID number, date of birth and PIN or last 4 digits of your Social Security number.

Who do I contact if I have more questions?

Contact the MVA at 1-800-950-1682,, or online.

Special thanks to Reyna Dunivant, Branch Manager at the MVA Parkville Express Office, for her contributions to this article.


©2012 Pathfinders for Autism


contact us today to get involved