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Steinhardt introduces bill to help make traffic stops safer for drivers with autism

Legislation Requires MVC to Create Special Blue Envelopes to Hold License, Registration & Insurance of People with Autism

NEW JERSEY – Senator Doug Steinhardt has introduced legislation that would help police know during a traffic stop that a driver with autism may have communication difficulties.

“People with an autism spectrum disorder often have a difficult time communicating with others,” said Steinhardt (R-23). “That could lead to unnecessary confusion and escalation during a traffic stop if a driver with autism doesn’t respond to an officer’s commands or answer their questions as expected. Thankfully, this is something we can help prevent.”

Steinhardt’s legislation, S-3533, requires the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) to work with the Department of Human Services, the New Jersey State Police, and at least one autism advocacy organization to design special blue envelops that may be utilized by a person who has been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder to hold documents required for the operation of a motor vehicle.

Under the legislation, the blue envelopes are required to:

  • be of a color shade easily recognizable to law enforcement officers;
  • be capable of holding a person’s driver’s license, motor vehicle registration certificate, and insurance identification card;
  • provide written information on the outside of the envelope identifying the envelope holder as a person who has been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder; and
  • provide written guidance to assist law enforcement officers in effectively communicating with a person who has been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.

The bill also requires that the MVC to establish the documentation required to obtain a blue envelope.

Steinhardt said there’s a growing need for the legislation as recent studies have highlighted a sharp rise in the number of autism diagnoses in New Jersey in recent years.

“We know we’re going to have more drivers with autism on New Jersey roads in the coming years, so it’s important that we put protections in place today,” Steinhardt said. “The blue envelopes we’re proposing are a simple solution that would help officers to complete a traffic stop safely. As soon as the officer is handed the special envelope by a driver with autism, they’ll have a better understanding of the situation and access to helpful information. That’ll be good for everyone involved.”

Assembly Republican Leader John DiMaio sponsors identical legislation, A-4979, in the General Assembly.

Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

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