West Bend police say they have a pile of civilian complaints about a local man. Other drivers have been calling about the 50-year-old’s driving since 2007. The driver in question, though, believes he is the victim of discrimination and wants the harassment to stop.
The man has cerebral palsy, a brain and nervous system disorder that can cause tremors, muscle weakness or other physical disabilities. A person with cerebral palsy may have any one or combination of symptoms, such as an uneven gait; occasional twisting or jerking of arms, legs, hands, or feet while at rest; or speech problems.
Observers unfamiliar with the disorder may mistake these symptoms for drunkenness. That’s what keeps happening with this man.
For all the times police have pulled him over, they say they have not once found him to be intoxicated. According to a department captain, officers are not singling the man out — they are merely responding, as required, to reports from other drivers.
The captain was quick not to lay blame with either the driver or the callers. He suggested callers may call because they notice the man can’t make a turn quite right, “or maybe he’s just a poor driver.” Whatever the reason, police must respond to the calls.
The man received his last citation in August, for crossing the center line. It is his third ticket in four years.
His mother comes to his defense. He is not intoxicated, she said, adding that other drivers are more dangerous with their cellphones. The man remarked that he has driven from Wisconsin to Florida without incident.
An organization in the area matches individuals with disabilities with advocates who can act as a buffer in situations like this. According to a representative, at times people with developmental disabilities can get impatient with others who question their abilities.
Source: WISN.com, “Driver With Disability Says He Wants Harassment To Stop,” Nov. 4, 2011