The administration in Chicago, Illinois is set to tighten the noose on disabled parking placard abusers. The new state law will add new gray and yellow ‘meter exempt permanent placards’ to the current blue/red placards and disability license plates. While holders of the old placards can still park in accessible parking spots, they can no longer park for free at metered spots.
The new law comes in the wake of the renewal of 700,000 placards by Jesse White, Secretary of State, Illinois. The renewed placards will expire in 2014. Meanwhile, the new placards, which will be valid until 2018, have started to be phased out.
As more placards are in circulation than usual, the potential for their abuse is also greater. Earlier, investigations by the Chicago Sun- Times revealed widespread misuse of disabled placards by relatives of placard owners, some of whom had used fake and expired placards for a free spot at metered parking.
Some disabled residents may not get free meter parking
The new law requiring existing placard holders to certify their disability for meter-exempt parking will take effect from January 1 next year. New criteria on which a person will become eligible for free metered parking have also been set. Disabled residents who do not meet the new criteria will have to pay for parking at a metered spot.
“This is absolutely terrible for me,” says one placard holder. “What it would cost me to try and park to go to work is probably the same amount of money I have to pay in medications to get through the month with the disease that keeps me handicapped. It’s terrible. It actually will hurt so many people. I don’t think it’s a wise decision at all.”
How will the new disabled placards help?
New placards for free metered parking will curb defrauding residents from occupying metered spaces using a fake or borrowed red-and-blue placard. Under the new law, able-bodied drivers using disabled parking placards or disability license plates will face a penalty of up to $1000 and the risk of getting their vehicles impounded. Moreover, new eligibility criteria will free up spaces for those with substantial physical disability.
The existing blue or red placard and disability license plate holders are being informed about the new law through flyers placed on their windshields by city finance department employees. The flyers resemble an actual parking ticket to grab attention of both eligible and fraudulent drivers and remind them of the new change in law. Placard holders have also been informed of the new law via mail.
Since 2009, the amount exempted for disabled motorists has cost the city more than $50 million. The new legislation is expected to cut down these costs by deterring offenders and ensuring that only legitimate owners use metered spaces.
Category: Handicapped parking