TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Nellie Pou and Senator Kristin Corrado requiring the MVC to issue, upon request, a driver’s license or non-driver identification card that indicates the holder’s diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder or communication order passed the Senate.
The bill, S761, is aimed at fostering better communication between individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder or some other communication disability and law enforcement officers whom they may encounter.
“Some common traits of autism spectrum disorder, such as little or no eye contact, or other communication difficulty might lead to a misunderstanding with other people, including police officers on patrol,” said Senator Pou (D-Passaic/Bergen). “Having a driver’s license or ID card that can immediately and readily clarify a person’s diagnosis in the event of a traffic stop or some other encounter will enhance communication and lead to better outcomes for all.”
New Jersey has the highest rate of autism spectrum disorder in the nation, affecting nearly 1 in 34 children. Other common traits of persons with autism include difficulty understanding the rules of a conversation; aversion to answering questions about themselves; and being unaware of/disinterested in what is going on around them.
Senator Pou noted that a license designating a driver as being on the autism spectrum, in conjunction with proper training of law enforcement officials, can help streamline communication and also help ensure appropriate treatment is afforded for all New Jersey residents on the autism spectrum.
An individual’s autism or communication disorder diagnosis would be notated on the person’s driver’s license or non-driver identification card under the column designated for restrictions.
The bill passed the full Senate by a vote of 39-0.