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Ohio bill would create voluntary registry for Ohioans with autism, other disabilities

A pair of Ohio lawmakers are proposing a voluntary registry for individuals with autism, speech impairments or other disabilities hampering communication, as a way to better inform law enforcement officials (Source: “Proposed registry would protect Ohioans with autism and other disabilities, lawmaker says,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, March 28, 2017).

The information would be available only to officers recalling information from a driver's license or license plate, and officers wouldn't know details about the disability besides the fact that it could influence communication.

House Bill 115 was prompted by recent Ohio incidents where drivers with autism were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. The drivers field sobriety tests, but blood and urine tests came back negative. Rep. Scott Wiggam, a Wooster Republican who co-sponsored the bill, said the registry was proposed by parents worried their children could end up in similar situations.

But there's disagreement among disabled Ohioans about the idea, said Kevin Truitt, an attorney for Disability Rights Ohio. Truitt said individuals are less supportive of making their disabilities known through a database than parents and family members who might be concerned about their safety.