TRENTON –The Senate today approved bipartisan legislation that would foster greater understanding and communication between law enforcement and the communicative disabilities community by requiring the Motor Vehicle Commission to allow the holder of a driver’s license or non-driver identification card to indicate that the person has been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder or communication disorder.
The bill, sponsored by Senator Nellie Pou and Senator Kristen Corrado, would require the MVC to indicate the diagnosis by notating the information on the person’s driver’s license or non-driver identification card under the column designated for restrictions. The goal is to make it easier for the person with the disability to more easily communicate with any law enforcement officer they may encounter and hopefully serve to limit the chances that an ordinary interaction, such as a routine traffic stop, will escalate into a more fraught or even violent confrontation.
“Too often, in recent years, some interactions between law enforcement and individuals with communicative disabilities have led to negative outcomes, simply because of a communication barrier. This legislation is designed to be a preventative measure that will help improve that communication and minimize the chance of escalation or a negative incident,” said Senator Pou (D-Bergen/Passaic).
The legislation, S-849, is aimed at protecting members of the communications disability community and also to help law enforcement better understand and communicate with them.
The bill was approved by the Senate by a vote of 39-0.