Free parking for holders of disability parking placards is on the way out. The governor Monday signed two new laws to curb the unauthorized use of handicap parking placards. The new laws increase the initial fine for unauthorized use of a disability plate or parking decal and doubles fines for those possessing fraudulent plates or disability placard.
The laws also establish tougher penalties for the improper use of a deceased person’s disability placard, making the offense a misdemeanor with a minimum fine of $2,500 and mandatory revocation of the offender’s driving privileges. “It is against all the laws of human decency for an able-bodied person to deprive a person with a disability of using a disability parking spot,” said Secretary of State Jesse White, who attended the bill signing.
He says his office reissues disability placards every four years with the next distribution set for 2014. With the issuance of the new placards in 2014, holders will no longer be automatically entitled to free parking at parking meters. Along with traditional placards a new “meter-exempt” placard will be given to those who are physically unable to access or operate a parking meter. Bill Bogdan, White’s disability liaison, says the state has a process by which a person is thoroughly checked out to make sure their need for a disability placard is legitimate. A subcommittee of the Safe Driving Task Force is looking at further reforms in the disability parking program.