In an idea that came from a Tallahassee police officer, Gov. Rick Scott this week signed a bill that will allow deaf people to voluntarily identify themselves as hearing-impaired when they register vehicles.
The information about being hearing-impaired will be included in a driver and vehicle database and in a criminal database that police routinely use.
The goal of the bill (HB 135) is to provide information upfront to police officers to prevent communications issues with deaf drivers that could inadvertently lead to confrontations.
The idea came from Tallahassee Police Lt. Robert DiGonzalez, who has a deaf son.
He became interested in protecting deaf drivers in 2016 after hearing about a 29-year-old North Carolina man who was shot and killed feet outside his home after he didn’t pull over for police.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Loranne Ausley, D-Tallahassee, was unanimously approved in the House and Senate during the legislative session that ended March 11.
The Senate sponsor was Sen. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg.