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Being stopped by police and having Parkinson’s

Have you ever been stopped by the police because of tremor or movement issues related to a movement disorder?

My name is Marcia, and I wanted to provide guidance based on my recent experience of getting stopped by police. I raise awareness for Parkinson’s in Central Virginia, and am a Parkinson’s Advocate/Lobbyist.

Tips for interacting with police

  • Be prepared! Carry documentation of your diagnosis and medications.
  • Ask your doctor to provide you with a letter outlining your diagnosis and common symptoms.
  • Fill out a medication list that has your doctor’s phone number and is signed by your doctor, and carry it with you at all times.
  • Place one copy in your wallet next to your driver’s license or ID. It doesn’t hurt to have a spare copy or two!
  • These can be downloaded for free from the National Parkinson’s Foundation, International Essential Tremor Foundation, and Huntington’s Disease Society of America.
  • Be polite with the police officer. Give the officer your medication cards, doctor’s note, and identification. Explain to the officer that you have a movement disorder and stressful situations can make your symptoms worse.
  • Do not hesitate to ask to speak with a supervisor if you are experiencing problems communicating with the officer.
  • Ask for a ambulance if you feel your going to be sick, upset, stressed by the stop. Most emergency personnel are educated on PD and can help.
  • Be proactive! Visit your local police and/or fire department. Introduce yourself and make them aware of the handicap person living in their community. This can be helpful if they are called to your home and can help the local volunteers better understand your needs.
  • Understand your rights under the American Disability Act.

The ADA

The American Disability Act is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities by employers, businesses and state and local governments. Law enforcement agencies, as part of state and local government, must take steps to communicate effectively and make reasonable changes in policies, practices and procedures to provide people with disabilities the same services and protections as provided to other members of the public, within certain limitations.

Remember you are Federally handicap right and are covered under the ADA.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The ParkinsonsDisease.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • Maria De Leon
    1 year ago

    great advice- thank you but be prepared that some people may then question your ability to drive and may request a re certification.

  • denimarie07
    2 years ago

    hi Marcia I also have been pulled up by the police and my experience was a wake up call for me. The police thought I had been drinking I hadn’t but was extremely tired. I had caused my car to wobble on the road. I think your advice is excellent and I will take it up Thankyou

  • Marcia author
    2 years ago

    Welcome

  • JennPatel
    2 years ago

    Wow, denimarie07! That must have been scary – thank you for sharing your experience with us, and I’m so glad Marcia’s post was helpful for you! Best, Jenn (ParkinsonsDisease.net Team)

  • Marcia author
    2 years ago

    Thank it was

  • StevenLV
    2 years ago

    As a retired police officer I find the tips fantastic! My experience involved an off duty experience in which my wife and I were approached by a person who was affected by Parkinson’s Disease stopped his vehicle in front of us as we were walking thru a parking lot of a restaurant. He began talking with us and quickly showed us a card which informed us of his Parkinson’s Disease. We were unable to ascertain what he wanted due to his speech. He seemed confused and then my concern was he maybe having a stroke or diabetic emergency. He then parked his car and went inside the restaurant and showed them his card and they believed what I thought. I called 911 explained who I was my concern with the man and even explained to them he suffered from Parkinson’s Disease, they said they would be sending a paramedic. Since I came from a large department police units were not usually sent on medical runs unless requested by the Fire Dept. This was a small community so the police responded with the paramedic. My concern was that this man could have been suffering from a cardiac or diabetic condition. I identified myself to the officer and explained to him about the man having Parkinson’s Disease. The officer was very curt, rude, and seemed put out by my request for service. The paramedics showed up and transported the man to the hospital because they had the same concern. As I approached the officer and asked about what the paramedics said, he rudely said to me “he has Parkinson’s Disease SIR!” He’s not DRUNK SIR!! My reply was I never said he was drunk and told you he had Parkinson’s! Then I ask him what his problem was. At this time I had 30 years as a police officer and was becoming extremely irritated by his behavior especially towards another police officer. Finally the man’s family showed up thanked me for my concern and they explained this was not the first time the man had done this. I also explained the officers reaction and they seemed to know who he was and not surprised by his behavior. So the advice listed above is very important and anything documenting the disease and a list of contact numbers is a must to have. Unfortunately there will be some bad experiences with law enforcement but the bigger departments have the time and the funding for training and small departments usually don’t.

  • Marcia author
    2 years ago

    Thank you my husband is law enforcement and we spoke about so often thought time to write about. Best to you sir

  • mikep
    2 years ago

    have a service dog and keep some meds and the list of doctors and meds in his backpack vest. also wear a pd alert bracelet to let first responders know I have pd

  • Marcia author
    2 years ago

    I also have a medical service Dog and keep her info my info and contacts all ready to hand over. Best to be prepared. Thanks

  • Chris H. moderator
    2 years ago

    These are really great tips, Marcia! I had never really considered this scenario before. Hopefully all turned out well in your run in with the police! Thanks for shedding light on another important topic! – Chris, ParkinsonsDisease.net Team Member

  • Marcia author
    2 years ago

    Thanks Chris

  • Marcia author
    2 years ago

    Thanks appreciate it

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