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What if I am deaf and have been charged with a DWI?
Rochester, NY has America's largest deaf population per capita. I have represented a number of people who are deaf, and one common comment those clients made was that communicating with police was difficult.
Very few police know American Sign Language (ASL), and problems will arise in tense situations where police rely on a deaf detainee's ability to read lips. If there is shouting, or if it is dark, or if a speaking person is not facing the lip reader, or if there is a conversation between two people who are not facing the lip reader, or if the deaf person is scared, it becomes very difficult for the deaf detainee to understand what is happening.
Much to their credit, the Rochester Police Department has made some efforts to improve communication with deaf persons. In May 2013, twenty deaf and hard of hearing persons graduated from the RPD Citizen's Academy. The RPD has also issued Deaf Driver Communication Cards, which can be picked up by presenting a valid Drivers License at either the Public Safety Building downtown, or at RRCD on Lyell Avenue. Deaf Driver Communication Cards don't fix the problem, but they might help defuse situations that can get tense very, very quickly.
If you are deaf or hard of hearing and you have been charged with a crime, you should know that law enforcement faces some practical challenges to prosecuting your case.
If you are facing a DWI charge in Rochester or one of the surrounding counties, contact us at The Militello Law Firm for a free telephone consultation and case evaluation. Our phone number is (585) 485-0025.