In 2024, autistic motorists in New Jersey, as well as their parents/Guardians, will be able to request that their autism diagnoses be notated on their driver’s license. This notation will appear as a code in the “restrictions” column of the driver’s license. This new law, originally passed in May of 2023, is intended to alert police officers of the driver’s disability during traffic stops. Additionally, New Jersey police departments will be provided with written guidance, instructing officers how to effectively communicate with people with autism or other disorders involving speech or language.
National autism research reveals that persons with autism and other developmental disabilities are more likely to encounter law enforcement than the general population. As such, autism advocates in New Jersey have embraced the new law, suggesting that it may prevent conflict and misunderstandings during roadside interactions between police and autistic drivers. From their perspective, the license notation gives autistic drivers a direct and simple way to communicate their diagnosis to an officer. Further, advocates believe formal written guidance will provide police with effective tools to manage the interaction safely and sensitively.
Eligible New Jersey drivers will be able to elect for the notation to be included on their driver’s license beginning December 1, 2024. We recommend checking the New Jersey Department of Motor Vehicle website for the latest updates as the implementation date for the new law approaches.
In addition, certain police departments, such as in Hamilton Township, currently offer autism awareness stickers, to be placed on the cars or homes of people with autism or other developmental disabilities. These stickers alert first responders that an autistic or developmentally disabled person may be present. We recommend you contact your local police department to find out if your municipality offers autism awareness stickers.