Texas Driving with Disability
This Texas trail-blazing program is improving the interaction between law enforcement and drivers diagnosed with a communication challenge or a hearing impairment.
Components to the Texas Driving with Disability Program
Communication Impediment on Driver License & State ID
Communication Impediment with a Peace Officer is an optional restriction code offered on Texas State ID and Driver License for those wanting to alert law enforcement of a challenge with communication. Physician signed form required.
Law Enforcement Training
In an effort to educate all Texas Law Enforcement agencies on better understanding persons with a Communication Impediment, video training modules are now available online on the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE) website for officers to utilize for continuing education hours.
Communication Impediment in Vehicle Registration
(Samuel Allen Law / Senate Bill 976, 86th Texas Legislative Session) – The option for disclosure of a communication disability/impediment when registering a vehicle through the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles. Communication Impediment will then be privately placed in the Texas Law Enforcement Telecommunication System (TLETS) thus alerting the officer of the challenge PRIOR to approaching the vehicle in a pull-over scenario. Form VTR-216 must be completed by a licensed physician if the applicant has a physical health condition or a licensed physician, licensed psychologist, or a non-physician mental health professional if the applicant has a mental health condition.
What diagnosis is considered a “communication impediment” for 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
How do I participate?
If you want to place the code for “Communication Impediment with a Peace Officer” on your Texas ID or driver license:
- Ask your doctor to complete form DL-101 and present it at the driver license office. The code will go on the back of your license, similar to other codes like organ donor or corrective lenses.
If you want “communication impediment” to be included in TLETS:
- Have your doctor, psychologist, or non-physician mental health professional complete form VTR-216. Present this form when you register your vehicle with Texas DMV.
Law Enforcement Officers (Training)
If you are a law enforcement officer, you can access the Driving with Disability training in TCOLE. This online training is available to all Texas law enforcement interested in learning more about conditions that may make communicating effectively with an officer more difficult. The training includes more detailed information on what constitutes a communication impediment and practical tips for successful communication. (Available Soon! Law Enforcement Training Program with partner Texas A & M San Antonio)
References and Additional Information
- 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.
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