Whether to drive with High Functioning Autism or Aspergers Syndrome is as individual a question as is the person. For many there is no interest in obtaining a drivers license as public transportation more than serves the purpose. For others, the heightened sensory issues and accompanying ADD make driving an almost dangerous venture. However, for those truly wanting the independence that driving can bring but fear the strong potential for communication miSam DL backsides-understanding with a law enforcement officer…we may have some good news that’s on the horizon!

In the United States, the Department of Motor Vehicles or Department of Transportation policies varies from state to state.  Though many countries/states have various polices in place concerning driving with an impairment or disability, it’s not enough….we need more.

My son Sam (age 20) and I reside in the State of Texas and presented a plan that would notify law enforcement, through a drivers license restriction, of autism in an individual. A newly assigned restriction code would alert an officer of the law that this person has Autism and is wired differently: most likely not understanding sarcasm, social cues nor respond well to threats or loud sounds. The restriction “Communication Impediment with a Peace Officer” is available through Texas DPS. Once established with internal coding in the T-LETS (Texas Law Enforcement Telecommunications System), any law officer would know prior to approaching the vehicle, that the driver has challenges with communication. That part (T-LETS) is not yet established but is currently being looked at within the DPS as is the restriction code being placed on the front of the drivers license as well as the back.

As it stands today, if you live in the State of Texas (hopefully other states will soon follow suit) here are the steps you need to take to get this protective/restriction code on your drivers license.

Adding Communication Impediment to your driver license is simple:

1) Have your physician complete and sign a Physician’s Statement Form (DL101) affirming the autism diagnosis. 

2) Visit your local driver license office for a driver license application (DL14A/S). Be sure and complete Line 7 (or like the Texas Veterans Commission, you could extract the line from the form for emphasis)

For all Driver License forms go to www.dps.texas.gov/DriverLicense

We have a friend in the Texas DPS/Drivers License Division.  The person looking into the current system and how to better it is the Assistant Director of the Driver License Division within the Texas Department of Public Safety, Mr. Joe Peters. He and his team members (pictured below) have listened and fully embraced all that Sam and I brought to the table on behalf of the Autism/Aspergers Community. With the decision-makers around the table, much was discussed and put into the works for getting drivers like Sam, independent without the communication fear that lies within many with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.

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Pictured (l to r) Mr. Joe Peters (Assistant Director Driver License Division/Texas DPS, Frances Gomez/Manager, License and Records Service, and Brian Riemenschneider, Assistant General Counsel, Samuel Allen/Aspergers101, Jennifer Allen/Founder Aspergers101, JoeAnna Mastracchio/Deputy Assist Director Customer Support Texas DPS and Brian Riemenschneider/Asst General Counsel

The collaboration between Aspergers101 and the Texas DPS/Drivers License Division, now established, is on-going and currently developing the best options possible. When the official Press Release from the Texas DPS becomes available we will certainly share all the details with you!

Many thanks to Texas State Representative Mr. Lyle Larsen (District 122 R-San Antonio) who heard our presentation and worked diligently with the DPS to establish a collaboration with Aspergers101 and move forward with the common goal of driving safely with Autism.

Another special thank you for the efforts from San Antonio’s Autism Community Network as they provided Medical facts, from the DSM-V, that support the need for a Communication Impediment acknowledgement and understanding from our law enforcement agencies.

As I stated in the opening paragraph, driving is a huge decision for anyone, especially those challenged with special needs. If this is an endeavor you feel is right for you or your child, remember to take it slow and allow their emotional side to catch up to their physical years. Thats important as many decisions while driving may take a more mature emotional driver than the neuro-typical 16 year old embarking on Drivers Ed.

Aspergers101 is committed to this and will continue to not only work with the DPS but to create a new subject category of “Driving with Aspergers101” on this website keeping you informed all along the way.

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  1. How offensive. Forcing a driver’s license restriction on people with autism? Seriously?

    Let the adult driver who has autism find coping skills to communicate with patrol, and decide on their own if they personally want to drive or not.

    1. Author

      Then you are offended easily. This is a choice by the driver, not forced. My son has Autism and drives quite well but chooses this as a protection as does many who are deaf or diagnosed with other communication challenges. Have you read the news? It was just last year in Oklahoma that a person with a hearing impairment was killed by an officer of the law due to the officer not knowing. You may opt not to disclose to law enforcement,but this choice is far from offensive…it’s a potential life saver for those wanting that safety net.

      1. I agree with Mrs. Allen, I am new to this blog and to Texas. My son is 23 and has Asperger. He drives very well ( although not alone yet) and pursuing a degree in mechanical eng at UTSA. He appreciates the fact that he is able to have help with his DL just in case he needs it. If he gets stopped, he really does not know if he will be able to answer any questions or completely freeze up. He feels more comfortable having this as an option. It is very important for all of us ( whether you are in the spectrum or not) to know and recognize our own strengths and limitations. By the way, how do we get updates? My son used to be part of an autism forum like this one in Fort Myers Fl. He loved it– he was invited several times to panels and since we moved to Texas he has not been able to meet anyone.

  2. Thanks for the article!!
    My family member was diagnosed late; close to age of 10. Then at age 13 yr old he found his father dead in their home. Talking about a tough adjustment.

  3. I really enjoyed reading this article.
    How do I find out what states this is available in? I have a family member diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, even though he is aware of his “Autism label” he has always been taught and groomed that it does not define him totally; he is often reminded that his “brain is wired” differently but he has a major contribution to this world he lives in. I am soooo proud of the “can do” attitude he has. I’ve always taught him the world is not all going to be friendly, pretty and with bright sunshiny smiling faces. There is a very dark cruel side to some and I motivate him to work for what he needs, dream big and pursue your goals. I am grateful to God that he is doing well. Have he had challenges or moments? YES OF COURSE!!!
    But as a family we worked through things one step at a time one day at a time.
    I wish well for everyone and their families on this audience.

  4. Hay My Name Is José Díaz González I want my draver license I live Puerto Rico San Juan 414 Calle Suiza 00917 floral park I can drave a car my nomber is 787 759 5178 thank you.

  5. What is the current status of the code on driver’s licenses for HFA in Texas?

    Thank you.

  6. Love this. Taylor, my 26 y/old in California is nearing the point he is ready to study the exam and take it one step at a time til he can drive (and figure out how to pay for) a car, insurance, gas and repairs. Perhaps by the time he gets there, this will roll out in Texas and beyond :>)



  7. I have Asperger’s and can drive without issue, but I would definitely have trouble with “understanding sarcasm, social cues nor respond[ing] well to threats or loud sounds”! My nineteen-year-old nephew has more severe Asperger’s/autism. He’s never been diagnosed as his parents refuse to admit there is any problem. He has a horrible time with driving and has decided he doesn’t WANT to drive, but his parents are forcing him to get his license. (We live in a very rural area with no public transportation, so it’s somewhat necessary.)

    I definitely see, in this case, that waiting for more emotional maturity and better multitasking skills would be beneficial, as would a license indicator like you describe. It’d be good if all states adopted such a protective/informational coding!

    1. How old are you?
      How are you doing with socializing?

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