A bill before the state legislature could soon make it easier for people with intellectual disabilities to identify the disability on their IDs.
JP's Law is named for 9-year-old JP Mines, who is diagnosed with autism. It would allow anyone with autism or an intellectual disability to voluntarily list their condition on their driver's license or state-issued ID. The idea is similar in principle to allowing those suffering from diabetes to list their condition on an ID card.
Richmond Senator Donald McEachin says because the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles already lists other designations, the measure would come at no cost to taxpayers. He hopes it will help ease interactions with law enforcement.
"The behavior may be something which is unfamiliar to the officer," said McEachin.
"Law enforcement is having quite a few contacts and interactions with people in the spectrum. Many of them are not turning out very well," said Sgt. Tim Sutton of the Hanover County Sheriff's Office.
The idea for JP's Law came from JP's mother, Pam Mines.
“He's only 9, but he will drive one day. And before he drives, we want people to be able to look on the ID and see that he has autism,” said Mines.
McEachin worked with law enforcement and other stakeholders over the summer to develop the bill. Advocacy groups, like the Commonwealth Autism Service, support the bill in concept as long as it is a voluntary distinction.
JP's Law passed with unanimous approval in the Senate Transportation Committee Wednesday. It now goes to the full Senate for a vote, before crossing over to the House of Delegates.