Posted on Monday, 04.22.13
Fred Grimm: The error was small, the damage immense
"Andrew Flaherty, new to Florida, could not escape the feeling he had moved to a unwelcoming place. He was often treated with a dismissive brusqueness, particularly at businesses where he was asked to produce an ID.
Occasionally., clerks looked at his newly issued Florida identification card and, with no explanation, told him they couldn’t help him. “I had to go to three pharmacies before I could find someone to fill my prescriptions,” Flaherty recalled. Not an inconsequential problem for the Jacksonville resident, who suffers from chronic heart problems and debilitating health complications from his Type I diabetes.
Flaherty, 48, who moved to Florida last year from Louisiana, found himself beset by a vague paranoia. “I [was] having problem after problem. Goodness gracious. It was happening every time I walked into a place.”
It happened again on March 9. Flaherty and his brother stopped at the guardhouse outside the Jacksonville naval base and presented their identification cards.
The guard studied Flaherty’s ID and ordered the brothers to park the car. Thirty-five minutes later, two police cars drove up. Flaherty was told that his state ID card included a designation that he was registered sexual offender. Which made his attempt to enter the navy base a crime.
“I said, ‘You’re kidding.’ I kind of freaked out.”
But there it was, in print barely discernible to Flaherty, who is legally blind, on the bottom right corner of the Florida ID card issued by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles back on Oct. 31 — “943.0435, F.S,” the statute number designating a convicted sex offender."