Bucco/O’Scanlon Bill Protecting Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder Advances
Allows Voluntary Designation on Drivers’ License Indicating ASD or Communication Disability
Legislation sponsored by Senator Anthony M. Bucco and Senator Declan O’Scanlon that would allow individuals diagnosed with a communication disability or an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to indicate the status on their driver’s license or identification card was approved today by the Senate Transportation Committee.
The bill will help law enforcement and first responders interact with those with conditions that can make them difficult to understand or appear to be uncooperative.
“The addition of a clearly visible designation on a license could help mitigate tension and confusion during a car stop or interaction with a police officer,” said 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The decision to add the designation to a driver’s license or ID card is voluntary, and may be withdrawn by the individual at any time under the bill.
Under the bill, the Motor Vehicle Commission would be required to maintain an automated statewide registry accessible by law enforcement officials for identifying a person diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder or communication disability.
“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. 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.”
The bill also establishes a program to be developed by the Superintendent of the Division of State Police to assist and train law enforcement officers to identify and effectively communicate with a person who has been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder or a communication disability. The program would be available annually to every county and municipal law enforcement agency in the State.