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New law aims to help miscommunication between law enforcement and those with communications disorders

The Samuel Allen Law helps Texas drivers with autism, deafness, PTSD, and other communication challenges alert law enforcement ahead of a traffic stop.

AUSTIN, Texas — No matter the situation, seeing police lights flashing behind you can be stressful. Especially if you have trouble communicating, which could lead to an officer misinterpreting that person’s actions.

Samuel Allen, 24, has Asperger’s Syndrome and ever since he started driving his mom, Jennifer, has advocated for safety for those with communication disorder. 

As of Sept. 1, their work has paid off, the Samuel Allen Law is now in effect.

"Senate Bill 976, also known as the Samuel Allen law now allows anyone diagnosed with a communication challenge the option for disclosure when registering their vehicle with the Texas DMV," Allen said.

A person who would like to notify law enforcement ahead of an incident of their disability can bring a doctor’s note with the condition listed to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles. Common diagnosis include Autism, Asperger Syndrome, mild intellectual disability, deafness and others.

Credit: State of Texas

Once the DMV has the note, a code is associated with that person’s license plate number and the communication impediment is placed in the statewide law enforcement computer system.

"This unprecedented law could save lives by averting misunderstandings and will also keep the diagnosis private from potential public scrutiny," Allen said.

When a police officer runs someone’s plates during a traffic stop, the officer will then be alerted and know what to expect.