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Assembly Panel Clears Lopez & Giblin Measure to Help Officers Identify Drivers with Autism

(TRENTON) – To offer law enforcement guidance when pulling over individuals with autism, Assembly Democrats Yvonne Lopez (D-Middlesex) and Thomas Giblin (D-Essex, Passaic) sponsor a measure approved by the Assembly Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee requiring the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) to issue a special driver’s license and non-driver identification card bearing a digital imprint to persons diagnosed with autism.

The bill (A-4651) would require the Chief Administrator of the MVC in collaboration with the commissioner of Human Services, the Superintendent of the Division of State Police, and at least one organization that advocates on behalf of persons who have been diagnosed with autism to design and make a special license that may be utilized upon request by a person operating a vehicle who has been diagnosed with autism.

Upon application by any person who has been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, the chief administrator shall issue to the applicant the special driver’s license or non-driver identification card bearing the digital imprint designed.

The special driver’s license would help clearly identify to a law enforcement officer that an individual has autism and that they should take that into consideration when evaluating behaviors of the person that has been pulled over. It offers guidance for both the individual with autism and the law enforcement officer on how to behave during a traffic stop.

Upon committee approval of the measure, Assembly members Lopez and Giblin issued the following joint statement:

“Getting pulled over is often very stressful and can be especially distressing to people with an autism spectrum disorder.  For those with autism, flashing lights and loud sirens can lead to nervousness, which can then lead to behaviors like avoiding eye contact, repetitive speech, or the need to repeat physical motions.  This bill is necessary to offer guidance for law enforcement and ensure that traffic stops for residents with autism are handled in a respectable and calming manner.”