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  • Deaf driver?

    The other day I made a stop and found both the driver and passenger to be deaf. This surprised me, as I didn't think a deaf person could get a driver's license. But the driver presented a driver's license and it came back as valid.

    I did a short search of our state statutes and could only come up with one the seemed to address this issue: 343.06(1)(f) The department shall not issue a license to any person who is required by this chapter to take an examination, unless such person takes and passes such examination. Deaf persons otherwise qualified under this chapter to receive a license shall be issued such license in the discretion of the secretary.

    Does anyone else have any experience with deaf drivers? It would seem to me that being deaf could be a major disadvantage for a driver. Is it legal in your area?

    Just curious, mostly.
    Caution and worry never accomplished anything.

  • #2
    What state are you in? In your post location you have America's Dairyland. That does not help much.
    South Bloomfield Police Department
    K9 Unit


    American Working Dog Council

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    • #3
      I'm in WI.
      Caution and worry never accomplished anything.

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      • #4
        Legal here TN and I have had contact with a couple. I just get them out and we write back and forth on a legal pad to communicate.
        It doesn't surprise me at all that a deaf person can get a license, they need to get where they are going just like everyone else.
        The only "disadvantage" I can see with a deaf driver is them not heaing an emergency vehicle siren, so it may take them a moment to respond to lights but I am more than happy to be patient in that case.
        Last edited by Troop2256; 06-06-2006, 06:04 PM.

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        • #5
          i've dealt with a couple of deaf people, but only had one traffic stop with a deaf person. the way my luck would have it, he had warrants and the passenger (also deaf) didn't have a license to drive. i went through half a notepad with them. i'd write my stuff down, give it to them and they'd respond. it took a while, but he went to jail and someone came to pick she and the car up. i let her read the exchange with him over the warrants, so she knew what was going on. saved me from having to explain it all over again.

          it wasn't that bad. just have an extra notepad in the car.

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          • #6
            I had the very same experience when i hit the street, after training. Pulled a veh over for blowing a stop sign. Both driver and passenger were deaf. Driver produced all documents, and all were valid. I couldnt communicate with the guy, so i wrote down reason for a stop on a piece of paper, and he replied on the piece of paper. Ended up giving him a break, as i didnt want to write out the explanation when i served him the ticket.

            they were both deaf, or both worthy of an Oscar. :P

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            • #7
              I have stopped several, perhaps four or five. I was lucky though, when I was in high school I dated a girl in college who was taking some sign courses. I used to help her study, and I picked up on some of it. I can at least tell them I am a police officer, ask for their driver card and vehicle paperwork.

              On a side note, they are very afraid when they get stopped. They fear that we will take their hand motions for overt acts, and we will hurt them. In other words, take a little time and be a litte nicer or at least a little more understanding than usual, please.

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              • #8
                Ever hear of the American wWith Disablilty Act...(ADA)
                its a federal law that states that if they can do what the requirements are, for job, lincences or what ever- they can not be denied it. Like above they have to get where they are going also.
                ‘Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go.’
                Oscar Wilde

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                • #9
                  Wow yeah thats a tough one. Watched another officer deal with a deaf person on a scene, but I havent had one on a traffic stop. I am in Ohio and will def look into that to see if we have code on it...

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                  • #10
                    Another one here in TN who has dealt with the same thing as both the Driver and Passenger were death. What else can you do but to communicate with them by writing on your note pad?

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by texaschickeee
                      Ever hear of the American wWith Disablilty Act...(ADA)
                      I hope you were being slightly sarcastic in your post.... to wit: the visually impaired (blind) can't drive... like you said, if you can be proficient in the requirements. I guess it all hinges on the definitions of what is necessary and what isn't. Personally, being able to hear things like a kid on a bike, a car horn, a train bell... yeah that is important.

                      And I've dealt with several hearing impaired drivers... never had a problem. I disagree with it, but it's not my call. There are some good ASL classes that focus on the big topics to cover with signing on police-related encounters. I've heard it can be an interesting class.
                      All Gave Some - Some Gave All

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                      • #12
                        Deaf Driver!


                        I'm a Deaf Driver from Alabama. It kind of caught me off guard to read that some police officers weren't aware that we deafies could legally drive!

                        There are actually few problems associated with "driving while deaf" except for the communication issues mentioned by some of y'all. Communication issues are easily solved by having a notepad handy!

                        Just a warning, though - some deafies will try to take advantage of this lack of communication hoping you'll just give up and let them go. Some may hand you a note saying you are required by law to provide an ASL interpreter while writing them a ticket - this is not strictly true unless your state requires this. During a traffic stop writing notes will do nicely, though if the whole mess goes to court an interpreter will be required - but the deaf person is required to provide adequate warning that a 'terp' is needed.

                        I for one would rather not see y'all giving deaf folks a 'break' just because we're deaf - we don't need special treatment, and it will only encourage some to ignore the law! Also, this can encourage 'hearies' to act deaf to get off on a ticket!

                        Overall it looks like y'all have handled your 'deaf encounters' pretty well and I'd like to thank you for wanting to improve your ability to handle these situations!

                        Dale R. Patterson
                        Owner - www.deafreedom.com

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                        • #13
                          What do you do if you pull over someone that is deaf and he shows signs of intoxication? I had that about a year ago. Thank goodness we had an officer who has a deaf child and translated for me. We bypassed the SFST because of risk of equaliberium problems. We just went with my observations on contact and the HGN. The guy blew a 1.5. He stated to my partner that he has been pulled over a few times before when he was drunk but knew that the officer's didn't want to bother with messing with him because he was deaf.
                          "Courage is doing what you're afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you're scared." — Eddie Rickenbacker
                          World War I hero

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                          • #14
                            I worked in Rochester NY which has a large college with many deaf students, which meant I was stopping deaf students every so often. I found the traffic stops involving those students very strange. I would do the pass the pad of paper back and forth and most times end up trying to explain my reason for the stop and having the motorist wanting to argue. It usually ended up with STAY IN YOUR CAR I'LL BE RIGHT BACK. I had one woman with a 4 yoa kid bouncing up and down in the back seat while she was driving and she gave me a whole load of crap about the stop. I don't treat the deaf any different than other motorists. Everyone gets one.

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                            • #15
                              The deaf drive like everyone else. They all ignore the lights and sirens, at least the deaf have a valid reason. No worse than the kids with 2000w stereos thumping so hard the deaf drivers can hear it.

                              I have had deaf drivers on stops, no problems, just used a note pad. I almost pulled a deaf couple over because they were argueing back and forth so much the driver was not paying attention to the road.

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