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Texas passes law to help those driving with a communication impediment

Posted: 9:11 PM, Sep 13, 2019
Updated: 2019-09-17 13:13:47-04

The Samuel Allen Law was passed during the State of Texas’ 86th Legislative Session.

Under the new law, which is the first of its kind in the nation, anyone with a communication impediment, such as autism, deafness, Asperger's Syndrome and others can now register the disability with the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles.

The law was named after 24-year-old Samuel Allen, who has Asperger's Syndrome.

Allen campaigned alongside his mother, Jennifer Allen, for the last six years through the Driving with Autism Initiative to bring the law to life.

"It's the fear of what might happen when your child is pulled over, and that officer might misinterpret their slower processing speed for deviance or bad-behavior or ever that they are on drugs,” said Jennifer. "This will alert an officer of the law of a person who has autism or any other challenge with communication prior to alerting the vehicle in a pull-over scenario, and a person again has the option to register the vehicle with the DMV as a person with a communication impediment.”

The initiative was created with the hope of avoiding miscommunication between law enforcement and those who face challenges with communication by placing a code on their driver’s license plates that alerts the officers of a communication impediment.

"Law enforcement officers are able to know early before they even exit their vehicle that the driver they have pulled over or the individual driver who may have been in an accident on the side of the road may have a communication impediment,” said Ron Lucey, Executive Director of the Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities.

The initiative also allows for officers to receive training on how to deal with those who have a communication impediment. It also puts posters and brochures in all DPS offices across the Lone Star State.

Those who worked on the initiative are also hoping to make the Samuel Allen Law a nation-wide law.

"We will be looking at systematic ways to share this as a package that another state can just pick it up and run with,” Lucey added.

The law went into effect Sept. 1. A person who would like to notify law enforcement ahead of an incident of their disability can bring a doctor's note with the condition listed to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles.

"It's most certainly the beginning of a program that can be built upon across all the united states,” said Jennifer.