A Wausaukee man born with one arm becomes one of the first drivers to receive a Wisconsin drivers license under a new Department of Motor Vehicles policy.
Until recently, people missing limbs had to pass a special road test and provide medical clearance, even if they had a valid drivers license from another state.
That changed after Lawrence University football coach Mark Speckman, born without hands, filed a federal discrimination lawsuit against the DMV.
In a story we’ve followed for months, he had a valid license in California, but was told he’d have to take a driving test again to get a license in Wisconsin.
But last month, the DMV settled a lawsuit with Speckman paving the way for others with disabilities to get a Wisconsin driver’s license.
Today an emotional Bob Dewitt received his license after an 11-month wait.
When Dewitt first went to the DMV office in Peshtigo last spring, he left hurt and humiliated.
“They made me feel like I was a freak show and I don’t like that, 20 years ago I’d a probably grabbed the dude on the other side of that counter when he questioned me, a little older now, a little smarter, now it hurts more here than it does here,” says Dewitt.
Despite possessing a valid Illinois drivers license with no restrictions, Dewitt left the DMV without a Wisconsin license because he refused to take a road test and felt discriminated against.
When we met Dewitt in July, he had taken a stand, even if it meant giving up his dream retirement home.
“They were going to cancel my car insurance in December, I was going to call the real estate, I wasn’t, no I wasn’t going to do it,” says Dewitt holding back emotions.
But after learning about the DMV’s recent policy change to honor out of state drivers licenses that show no restrictions, Dewitt returned today to get his license.
“It’s too bad that it had to come to this, but it is what it is, if you’re capable of doing it anywhere else in the world why should this state be any different, why should I be treated any different and make you feel like you’re from Mars going in there to ask for a license that I’ve had for 30-plus years,” says Dewitt.
A simple eye test and a photo, and Dewitt was good to go.
A much different experience than what Dewitt says he encountered last time.
“One guy in there barking and complaining wasn’t going to change it, so it takes more than one, one guy to open his mouth and people to stand behind him is what does it,” says Dewitt.
Dewitt’s license will arrive in the mail within a week, but he already has plans to return to the DMV.
“I got my motorcycle permit book, we’ll go for that one next and see what they got to say about that, I had one in Illinois, I’ll get one here,” says Dewitt.
The DMV tells us it will soon have a new form for disabled drivers to fill out when they arrive at DMV offices to obtain a license.