New House Bill Helps Disabled Oklahoma Drivers

Tuesday, October 29th 2019, 8:25 pm
By: Amelia Mugavero

House Bill 2516 goes into effect Nov. 1, making it easier for drivers with disabilities to communicate with law enforcement during a traffic stop.

“There have been some issues when they were not aware I was deaf and got frustrated,” said deaf driver Jennifer Boss. 

Boss said being deaf has never stopped her. She uses sign language and uses an interpreter at Total Source for Hearing loss and Access. However, if Boss is ever stopped by police, she has to communicate differently, such as writing things out, or having somebody else speak on her behalf.

According to TSHA, you can put your disability on your license or as a sticker on your car. Come Nov. 1 law enforcement will instantly know that information- just by running their tag number. All you have to do is fill out an affidavit at any tag agency to register a new or existing tag number. The conversation all began here in Green Country. Now House Bill 2516 makes sure law enforcement knows they pulled over a driver with disabilities.

Tulsa Police Officer Brandon Sparks said this will keep officers from making assumptions.

"I can assume that they are under an intoxicant. If I knew they had a disability ahead of time it will help me know how to better assist that citizen," said Sparks.

State lawmakers like Senator Roger Thompson who co-authored the bill hope this bill improves that situation.

"When they think they are drunk or they are disobeying orders, in reality their sugar is low. I think it will better the quality of life for Oklahomans," says Thompson.

Boss said she hopes House Bill 2516 helps improve relationships with law enforcement, because communication, is a two way street.

"I think it will be a good start to improve the system, I am really excited about that," said Boss.

Boss said organizations like TSHA train Tulsa police on how to communicated with the deaf, and they also plan to educate on this bill once it goes into effect.