Autism Advocates Push for Driver’s License Identification to Prevent Police Misunderstanding
KTUL - October 16, 2023 6:03 am
TULSA, Okla. (KTUL) — Seeing police lights and sirens behind you can be worrying for anyone, but advocates say for a person with autism, it could trigger something more.
Autism advocates say individuals with autism who get confronted by a police officer will typically react in a way that makes officers misunderstand their intentions.
A new proposed state law could help lessen the chances of that.
The law would require people to register their disability on their driver’s license or state ID so when they come across a police officer, there will not be any miscommunications.
“It can become a situation where that person that’s been pulled over looks like they’re argumentative,” said Community Impact Director for Autism Oklahoma Stacey Weddington. “They look like they’re combative, and you just don’t want things to snowball.”
Executive Director for Autism Oklahoma Emily Scott says misunderstandings between people with autism and police officers have directly impacted her and her son’s lives.
“I also have a 20-year-old son with autism,” Scott said. “He has a driver’s license but he does not drive, and one of the reasons why is because he is really nervous about police interactions.”
If this law gets put in motion, it would also require further education for law enforcement officials on how to prevent unnecessary altercations with people with autism.
If you don’t want this identifier on your license, a proposed alternative is adding a communications disorder on your tag when you register your vehicle.
Advocates say that the addition of these identifiers and education for first responders is a beneficial combination that could help lessen the risk of unnecessary altercations.