2 bills designed to help Virginians with special needs signed by Gov. Northam

2 bills designed to help Virginians with special needs signed by Gov. Northam
Virginia and American flag (Source: WVIR)

ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - Gov. Ralph Northam has signed two bills designed to help communication between law enforcement and Virginians with special needs.

The bills were introduced by Albemarle County Del. Rob Bell. This is an issue important to Bell, who has a son at the Virginia Institute of Autism.

Coincidentally, on Autism Awareness Day, he shared why he’s glad Gov. Northam was able to sign his bills into law.

Getting pulled over by the police can lead to tense situations, especially if the driver is hard of hearing, or has autism, for example. That’s why Bell introduced House Bill 1960.

Because of the new law, an officer can search a license plate and immediately learn if the owner or a regular driver of the car has a disability. That way the officer is prepared for their interaction before they approach the window.

“The officer comes up to the window and he’s giving any instructions, and you may not be able to understand them,” Bell said. “If he knows when he comes up to the window that there may be an issue, it will make it easier for that communication to go properly.”

The other Bell-introduced bill, House Bill 1961, will allow the DMV to provide non-driving ID cards to those without a license, and it can include notice that the person has special needs.

Both bills will go into effect on July 1.

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