Texas Driving with Disability
What is the Texas Driving with Disability Program?
This Texas trail-blazing program focuses on improving the interaction between law enforcement and drivers with disabilities that have unique communication needs.
What diagnosis is considered a “communication impediment” under the Texas Driving with Disability Program?
Medically, each disorder lends itself to its own category. However, for law enforcement coding and training purposes, the term "Communication Impediment" is divided into two groups.
Think of this group as having a slower processing speed. Similar to a computer that takes a little longer to load content. Allow time for individuals to respond. Diagnosis in this group include:
- Autism (including Asperger Syndrome)
- Mild Intellectual Disability
- Down Syndrome
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Speech and Language Disorders (mutism, stuttering, speech delay Aphasia and Spasmodic Dysphonia)
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Brain Injury
- Cerebral Palsy
Think of this group as using a different language. There is no mental impairment but an individual communicates differently than you. Diagnosis in this group include
- Hard of Hearing
Components to the Texas Driving with Disability Program
The Texas Driving with Disability program includes two components:
- Ways to notify law enforcement officers about your communication needs
- Information on education and training
Communication Impediment on Driver License & State ID
Communication Impediment with a Peace Officer is an optional indicator offered on the Texas State ID and Driver License for those wanting to alert law enforcement of a challenge with communication. Ask your doctor to complete form DL-101 and present it at the driver license office. "Communication Impediment" will appear on the front of your card.
Communication Impediment in Vehicle Registration
The Texas Law Enforcement Telecommunication System (TLETS) provides authorized law enforcement personnel with query access to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) registration system. Returns of vehicle and driver information are presented through authorized TLETS terminals. The option for disclosure of a communication disability/impediment when registering a vehicle through the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles. Communication Impediment or Deaf/Hard of Hearing will then be privately placed in TLETS thus alerting the officer of communication need prior to approaching the vehicle in a pull-over scenario. There are two forms that are available:
Form VTR-215 Deaf Driver Awareness (with specialty license plate)
Form VTR-216 Communication Impediment (without specialty license plate)
An approved medical provider will need to complete your preferred form. Present the completed form when you register or update your vehicle with Texas DMV.
Requirements for Texas Public Schools
Effective September 1, 2023, Texas public schools must provide information about the Texas Driving with Disability program to students who:
- have a health condition or disability that may impede effective communication; and
- receive special education services; or
- are covered by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
This information must be provided annually to each student who is 16 years of age or older until graduation or until their 21st birthday. The information about the Texas Driving with Disability program must also be provided to the parents or guardians of eligible students. It may be provided with any transition planning materials that the school provides.
The information on this page may be used by schools to share with students and parents. In addition, the Texas Transition and Employment Guide will be updated to include information about the Texas Driving with Disability program as it applies to students receiving special education services in Texas public schools.
Educating Student Drivers
The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) oversees the Driver Education & Safety program. In an effort to educate student drivers, Texas Driver Education & Driving Safety Providers must update their curriculum to include information relating to the Texas Driving with Disability Program
TDLR also offers Driver Education curriculum in American Sign Language and with captions.
Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals can request driver education schools to use this curriculum as a substitute. If the driver education school prefers to use their own curriculum, the school will be required to provide an ASL interpreter or captions requested as a reasonable accommodation.
Law Enforcement Training
In an effort to educate all Texas Law Enforcement agencies on how to interact with people that have different communication needs, there are courses now available online on the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE) website for officers to utilize for continuing education hours.
TCOLE Course 4055: Understanding Communication Impediment for the Peace Officer (online continuing education training for law enforcement officers)
TCOLE Course 7887: Interacting with Drivers who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing (mandatory training for law enforcement officers)
Links are to posted curriculum for trainers. Log in to Texas Commission on Law Enforcement or contact your training academy for more information on how to register.
References and Additional Information
- Download Initiative Brochure as PDF
- Initiative Brochure as PDF en Español
- Download Initiative Poster as PDF
- Initiative Poster as PDF en Español
- Public Service Announcement - Communication Impediment Driver License Designation
- Public Service Announcement – Communication Impediment Driver License Designation in American Sign Language
- Driving with Autism Public Service Announcement
- Driving with Autism Public Service Announcement in American Sign Language
- Samuel Allen Law Informational Video
- Senate Bill 976 (86th Legislative Session) - relating to the notification of a peace officer through an indication associated with vehicle registration that a person has a health condition or disability that may impede effective communication.
- House Bill 1434 (85th Legislative Session) - relating to displaying certain informational materials and videos in driver license offices.
- Senate Bill 2304 (88th Legislative Session) - relating to the regulation of driver education courses and driving safety courses and the provision of information regarding the Texas Driving with Disability Program to certain public school students.
About Texas Driving with Disability Program
Texas Driving with Disability program was created by Jennifer Allen, founder and former executive director of Aspergers101. Jennifer’s son Samuel is diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, a form of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) characterized by difficulties with social interaction and nonverbal communication. When Samuel reached driving age, Ms. Allen recognized the need for support for people with communication impediments in interacting with law enforcement during a traffic stop, together they have forged this program into law.
Driving with Disability initiative is a success because in our great state of Texas, you can take an idea from a citizen, empower that idea through our State Legislature, engage our great Department of Public Safety and Department of Motor Vehicles, gain total support through our Governors Committee on People with Disabilities, affirm its credibility through the medical community and suddenly we have forged a program worthy to share. Let’s pass it on and have others build upon it.
Jennifer Allen/Founder Texas Driving with Disability