Legislation sponsored by Senators Kristin Corrado, Anthony Bucco, and Declan O’Scanlon that would allow individuals diagnosed with a communication disability or an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to indicate that status on their driver’s license was approved today by the New Jersey Senate.
Legislation sponsored by Senators Kristin Corrado, Anthony Bucco, and Declan O’Scanlon that would allow individuals diagnosed with a communication disability or an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to indicate that status on their driver’s license was approved by the New Jersey Senate. (SenateNJ.com)
“Over the last several months, I have been contacted by constituents with autism spectrum disorder that say they have difficulty explaining their condition to law enforcement during vehicle traffic stops,” said Corrado (R-40). “This legislation will help alleviate that issue by allowing people with special needs to have that designation printed directly onto their license. This important information will assist law enforcement officials in identifying, and effectively communicating with, individuals with autism or autism spectrum disorder during vehicle stops.”
The bill, S-849/741, will help law enforcement and first responders interact with those who have conditions that can make them difficult to understand or appear to be uncooperative. The decision to add the designation to a driver’s license or non-driver identification card is voluntary.
“The addition of a clearly visible notation on a license could help mitigate tension and confusion during a car stop or interaction with a police officer,” added Bucco (R-25). “The stress of being pulled over, being involved in an accident, or suffering an injury can make it even more difficult for some individuals to express themselves clearly. This bill will increase understanding for police and emergency personnel and help ensure a peaceful and routine resolution.”
“The emphasis of this bill is safety,” said O’Scanlon (R-13). “Research has shown that those with a disability or mental illness are at greater risk of being injured in a conflict with police due to communication breakdown. Our goal is to prevent the interaction from getting out of control. Better communication and empathy will shield all involved so they can go home at night and sleep in their own beds.”
This legislation also requires written guidance to be distributed to each police department in the state, which is designed to assist law enforcement officers in effectively communicating with a person diagnosed with an ASD or communication disorder.
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