New legislation in New Jersey will allow those with communication disorder diagnoses or autism to indicate the fact on their state identification cards.
The bipartisan legislation (A-2369/S-761) was signed into law May 15 by Gov. Phil Murphy which will allow such individuals to request an official indication of their diagnosis on their state driver’s license or non-driver identification.
“The ability to opt into this new notation on a State ID will allow more of our residents to rest easy that they or their loved one can expect greater understanding and accommodations for their unique communication needs during encounters with law enforcement,” said Murphy.
North Jersey Support
Sponsors of the bill include North Jersey lawmakers State Sens. Nellie Pou (D-35) and Kristin Corrado (R-40), along with Assemblywoman Aura Dunn (R-25) and Assemblyman Thomas Giblin (D-34).
The legislation was designed for people with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or communication disorder to quickly and effectively communicate to police officers that verbal interactions challenges could result in when police are in conversations with residents.
“Making it easier for officers to identify situations where a different approach may be necessary and training them on how to adjust their communication tactics accordingly will benefit both law enforcement professionals and the individuals they serve by promoting safer, more productive interactions going forward,” the governor added.
Specifically, legislators argued it would reduce the likelihood of dangerous misunderstandings at traffic stops.
“A simple notation on a license will help law enforcement officers recognize that a driver may have trouble responding appropriately through no fault of their own, which can help reduce anxiety for those drivers as well as officers,” said Dunn.
The legislation will require those with an ASD or communication disorder, or their parent or legal guardians, to submit documentation of the disorder to the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (NJMVC) in order to be provided the indication on their ID card.
The legislation requires guidance be sent to police departments to better communicate effectively with a person diagnosed with a disability.
“Over the last year and a half, I have been contacted by constituents with communication disabilities that say they have difficulty explaining their condition to law enforcement during vehicle traffic stops,” said Corrado. “This legislation will help alleviate that issue by allowing people with disabilities to have that designation printed directly onto their license.”