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Lawmakers consider legislation alerting police if a person has a communication impediment


A package of bills currently in the state house would allow motorists to have information about a communication disorder linked to their license plate or driver’s license.

Michigan lawmakers say it is important that police know if someone has any kind of communication impediment.

Democratic State Senator Curtis Hertel introduced the senate version of the legislation.  He said officers may make assumptions about a driver who won’t look them in the eye or who may appear to be slurring their words.

“If we have this kind of information beforehand then it takes away some of those assumptions and it’s probably safer for the officer and safer for the person being pulled over.”

Hertel said there are no requirements about people adding the information to a database.

“What we’re trying to do is put that information, by a person's choice, in the law enforcement database so they would have that information before the conversation starts.”

Driver’s licenses, license plates, and Enhanced IDs would not display communication impediments but would be connected to a Secretary of State database which identifies the owner as having a speech impediment.

“To be clear this is information people choose to put in the database. This is not, nobody is forcing anybody to be a part of it, it’ll just make it easier in those situations.”

Hertel said conversations are still being had about the best way to get the information to law enforcement - one potential problem is connecting the information to a license plate may cause problems when someone else is driving.

Another bill in the house would connect similar information to Personal IDs - expanding the legislation to include non-drivers with communication impediments.

The legislation is currently in the House Transportation committee.

A spokesperson for the Michigan State Police said they do not currently have a position on the legislation.