In September of 2008, Ohio became one of the first states to make a Next of Kin registration program available to its residents. The Ohio state legislature established the program in response to situations where police and emergency personnel had been unable to locate or contact family members of people who had been fatally injured. Several accidents occurred where people had been severely injured but not killed instantly. Tragically, their relatives were unable to spend time with their injured relatives during their last hours due to the difficulty police had in identifying exactly who to notify.
The law specifies that anyone who has a valid Ohio driver’s license, temporary instruction permit, or non-driver identification card may voluntarily participate in the program. The program allows an individual to provide the name and contact information of a person who they wish to be notified in the event the individual is involved in a crash or emergency and is otherwise unable to communicate with the contact person. If someone under the age of 18 wishes to sign up for the Next of Kin program, one of their emergency contacts must be a parent or guardian.
The Next of Kin program requires an individual to submit at least one contact person to be notified in case of a motor vehicle accident or emergency situation. An individual can either submit the information for their emergency contacts either online or by completing the Next of Kin form (BMV 2437) through the mail or with any Deputy Registrar. To register, one needs to submit certain personal identifiers for themselves such as their Ohio Driver’s License or ID number, the last four digits of their SSN, the first initial of their last name, and their date of birth.
Once someone has registered their emergency contact information, they can always change it by going back to the BMV website or by re-submitting the Next of Kin form (BMV 2437). It is important to note that it is an individual’s own responsibility to update any next of kin information, such as a changed cell phone number. Also remember that before someone is listed as an emergency contact, it is a good idea to let that person know that they are being listed as such.
The law provides that only authorized law enforcement and BMV personnel have access to your emergency contact information once it is registered. It may only be used to contact your next of kin designations in the event that you are unable to communicate due to an accident or emergency. To alleviate any concerns about others ever discovering the names that an individual has listed as their emergency contacts, the law specifically states that emergency contact information can never be bought or sold. In addition, because the statute specifically exempts the information from being a public record, the public cannot ever inquire about your contact information.
If you have any questions about Ohio’s Next of Kin program, please click here or call the BMV call center at 614-752-7600.
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John C. Meehling
Attorney John C. Meehling is a Family Law Attorney from Dayton, Ohio, and contributor to the Ohio Family Law Blog. Attorney Meehling recently joined the Dayton law firm of Holzfaster, Cecil, McKnight & Mues on November. 1, 2010.