LANSING, Mich (AP) — Bills designed to improve police interactions with individuals with autism or who face other communication barriers were signed into law Tuesday by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
Starting in July 2021, the new laws will allow those on the autism spectrum or who have other communications barriers to voluntarily have a notice associated with their driver’s license, registration or state ID cards to alert police of a possible difficulty in communicating.
Such communication barriers can be a factor in deadly incidents, such as the case of 32-year-old Eyad Hallaq, a Palestinian with severe autism who was shot and killed by police in Jerusalem five days after George Flyod’s death in Minneapolis.
About one in 54 U.S. children have autism spectrum disorder, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The communications impediment is a designation that can be applied sought when renewing or applying for a driver’s license, state ID or chauffeur’s license. Someone can apply for the designation for themselves or for a family member who has a communications impediment.
Law enforcement will be able to see the designation in the Michigan Law Enforcement Information Network during traffic stops and can act accordingly.
A person seeking the communications impediment designation would have to provide the secretary of state’s office proof of an impediment signed by a physician or physician’s assistant, a state licensed physical therapist or a certified nurse practitioner.
Anna Liz Nichols is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.”