Autism designation on NJ Driver’s Licenses passes Senate in unanimous vote

Driver’s licenses in New Jersey often have additional designations such as those for military veterans and organ donor designations.

Now, a law seeking to add an autism designation has passed in a unanimous 39-0 vote in the state senate.

Legislation sponsored by Senator Nellie Pou and Senator Kristin Corrado requiring the MVC to issue, upon request, a driver’s license or non-driver identification card that indicates the holder’s diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder or communication order passed the Senate.

Bill, S761, is aimed at fostering better communication between individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder or some other communication disability and law enforcement officers whom they may encounter, Senate officials said today.

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“Some common traits of autism spectrum disorder, such as little or no eye contact, or other communication difficulty might lead to a misunderstanding with other people, including police officers on patrol,” said Senator Pou (D-Passaic/Bergen). “Having a driver’s license or ID card that can immediately and readily clarify a person’s diagnosis in the event of a traffic stop or some other encounter will enhance communication and lead to better outcomes for all.”

According to the Senate official, New Jersey has the highest rate of autism spectrum disorder in the nation, affecting nearly 1 in 34 children. Other common traits of persons with autism include difficulty understanding the rules of a conversation; aversion to answering questions about themselves; and being unaware of/disinterested in what is going on around them.

The law will be enacted upon signing by Governor Phil Murphy.