New tool helps officers, people with Autism during traffic stops

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — When police pull you over, it can get stressful for just about any driver.

Now there’s a tool to help Autistic drivers communicate with traffic officers.

Samuel Allen helped demonstrate the new tool at the State Capitol Monday. “I usually don’t understand innuendos or sarcasm and loud noises, like, say, blowing a whistle in my face, can delay my response time. If left unchecked in a situation with a police officer, it could make the situation a lot worse.”

The Department of Public Safety initiative will allow drivers to note if they have communication impediments right on their driver’s license.

“Let’s say a police officer pulls over someone with high-functioning Autism, the officer may make a figure of speech, and they’ll say something like ‘Where’s the fire?’ and the person with Autism may take it literally, and say, ‘Well, there actually is no fire I’m going to.’ The officer may take it as a smart aleck remark and find it disrespectful,” Allen said.

The notification on the back of a driver’s license would help do away with that possibility.

They could include people with Asperger’s, Down Syndrome or speech impediments.

Steps for getting the notification added to your driver’s license:

  1. Have your physician complete and sign a physician’s statement form (DL101) affirming the diagnosis.
  2. Visit your local driver license office for an application (DL14A/S). Complete line 7.

For more information visit the Texas Department of Public Safety website. 

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