ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — A new bill in New York state would allow people with Autism Spectrum Disorder to obtain a special driver’s license.
Supporters say it would help law enforcement on routine stops, but the bill does raise concerns among advocates.
Known legally as Assembly Bill A08711, it would establish a system for people on the Autism spectrum to receive a special driver’s licenses. It was introduced by Assemblymember Nader Sayegh of Yonkers. It is a way for law enforcement and first responders to immediately know a person has autism and react appropriately towards them.
“Anything we can do to increase awareness with regards to an individual having autism is a great thing,” said Lawana Jones, President & Ceo of the Autism Council of Rochester. “The part we need to be careful about is how do we roll this out. We need to make sure parents and those that are on the spectrum have given their input on how we need to roll this out.”
While the bill makes its way through the state legislature, other states have passed similar laws. Just last month in Texas The Samuel Allen Law went into effect. It was named after a young man who has Aspergers syndrome and spearheaded a campaign to get his law passed.
“Communication impediment will be privately placed in the statewide computer system thus alerting the officer prior to approaching the vehicle during a traffic stop. This unprecedented law could save lives by averting misunderstandings,” said Allen in a Public Service Announcement.
Meanwhile Jones says the New York bill will bring more awareness to the public, but says it needs to be more comprehensive. According to Jones, lawmakers must also consider those with autism who may not want a distinct mark on their driver’s licenses.
“Sometimes people who are on the spectrum and want to work would have to utilize that identification as far as their employer goes, but what if they don’t want their employer to know on the autism spectrum. Something we have to look at,” said Jones.
The bill was recently introduced in the committee of transportation. It would take effect immediately if passed.