WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – A law aimed at protecting Kansas drivers with disabilities takes effect tomorrow. Joey’s Law was created in honor of Joey Weber.
In August 2016, Weber, an autistic man, was shot and killed by a Hays police officer after a traffic stop. That officer was declared to be acting in self-defense, so no charges were filed.
In the aftermath of their son’s tragic death, the Weber family wanted something positive to come out of it.
Joey’s Law allows a person with a cognitive disorder to request alert indicators. There’s three different types. The individual can choose one, two or all three indicators.
One indicator is a placard, about the same size of a Handicap placard. On the back of the placard, it reads: “Notice to law enforcement officers: the driver/passenger in this vehicle has a cognitive disorder. Our intent is to comply with your commands. Please speak with a clear soft voice. Your patience and understanding will be appreciated. Thank you.” The placard can be placed on the driver’s side dash or visor.
The other indicator is a tag decal for the license plate, and it will be displayed in the lower left corner.
The last indicator shows a notification on a driver’s license.
Officials with the Kansas Department of Revenue said they wanted to be discreet as possible with the indicator. In the restriction field, there is a ‘J.’
“What that does is it tells a law enforcement officer to flip the license over, and on the back of the license it says ‘cognitive disorder behavior,’” said Kent Selk, in the Division of Vehicles.
Joey’s Law was created with help from law enforcement and disability organizations. Those with autism said it’s a step in the right direction, as interactions with law enforcement can be dangerous.
“To someone like me, it could be very scary,” said Grant Day, who was diagnosed with autism when he was three years old. “It’s very anxiety provoking. There’s bright lights. There’s potentially a lot of noise.”
Grant testified at when Joey’s Law was making its way through Kansas legislature. He said he plans to apply and request for one of the alert indicators.
“It’s not just that it helps people with autism. It helps the law enforcement officials themselves, because they don’t want have to deal with a situation they’re not familiar with,” Day said. “I could just put a placard in my car, and they’ll know, hopefully, that they need to be a little slower with me so I don’t panic.”
In order to receive these indicators, an individual has to apply.
Joey’s Law requires the applicant to provide proof they need assistance with cognition. According to the law, this can be provided by a licensed practitioner. The application can only be filled out and submitted at the local county treasurer’s office.
The Kansas Department of Revenue will then send a notification to the applicant if they qualify.
The decal and placard will be available around mid-July.
It is voluntary to provide information for Joey’s Law, but Weber’s father hopes people use it – saying he doesn’t want to see another life lost.