Calderon Bill Creating Voluntary Deaf or Hard of Hearing Notification Program within Department of Motor Vehicles Approved by Assembly Transportation Committee

Monday, March 20, 2017

SACRAMENTO, CA – Assembly Bill 381, a measure introduced by Majority Leader Ian Calderon (D–Whittier) which would create a Voluntary Deaf or Hard of Hearing Notification Program in order to provide helpful, timely information to law enforcement and greater reassurance to the deaf community, was approved by the Assembly Transportation Committee today.  

“AB 381 seeks to improve traffic stop interactions between law enforcement and the deaf community,” stated Majority Leader Calderon.  “The deaf or hard of hearing community deserves the peace of mind that comes with knowing that the police officer that’s pulling you over isn’t going to rely on verbal commands and potentially let a routine traffic stop escalate because the driver is unable to heed those commands. Peace officers have a difficult job.  Routine traffic stops can turn out to be anything but routine. The more information officers have before approaching a vehicle, the better they can protect and serve as intended.”

AB 381 directs the Department of Motor Vehicles to create a Voluntary Deaf or Hard of Hearing Notification Program.  The program would allow a person registering a vehicle or renewing said registration, to voluntarily indicate that a driver of the vehicle may be deaf or hard of hearing.  This would create a notification in the vehicle’s record which would be provided when a peace officer accesses the vehicle’s registration – more commonly known as running the vehicle’s plates. 

“When the motorist in question is deaf or hard of hearing, the situation can quickly and unnecessarily escalate,” stated Majority Leader Calderon. “There are several stories in recent years demonstrating this possibility for escalation during traffic stops between law enforcement and deaf motorists.” 

The Voluntary Deaf or Hard of Hearing Notification Program would provide law enforcement with helpful information that contributes to a more successful interaction with deaf motorists, as well as afford that community more confidence when being pulled over for a routine traffic stop.  Additionally, in order to protect the privacy and security of participants of this program, the bill explicitly prohibits the DMV from indicating a driver’s deaf or hard of hearing designation on the driver’s license, certificate of ownership, registration card, or license plate.

AB 381 is supported by the Disability Rights California, Deaf & Hard of Hearing Service Center, Inc., Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, Los Angeles Police Protective League, Riverside Sheriffs Association, Association of Deputy District Attorneys, California Narcotic Officers Association, California Association of Code Enforcement Officers, California College and University Police Chiefs Association, and the Los Angeles Professional Peace Officers Association.

Contact: Lerna Shirinian (562) 692-5858