Quinn Signs Law Ending Free Meter Parking For Disabled
Disabled drivers, get your quarters ready.
Over 600,000 Illinois motorists with handicap plates or disability parking placards will say goodbye to free parking at metered parking spots starting in 2014.
Monday Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed into law sweeping changes to legislation controlling disabled parking statewide, but perhaps has the most impact in Chicago.
Part of the impetus for the legislation came from reports of wide spread abuse of disabled parking placards to park for free in Chicago’s very expensive metered parking spots first reported by the Chicago Sun-Times.
In addition, the City of Chicago began receiving multi-billion dollar bills from Chicago Parking Meters, LLC the company which has the 75 year concession to operate the meters. Per the contract signed with CPM in 2008, the city has to compensate the company for the massive number of drivers using disability placard and handicap plates to legally park without feeding the meter.
The vast majority of drivers with disabled placards and/or handicap plates will no longer be eligible for the free parking. Only drivers who cannot physically operate or access a parking meter will still be allowed to park without feeding the meter. Those drivers will be required to have their physician to sign a medical form in order to obtain the new placard or window decal to park at meters for free.
Even though the law goes into effect on January 1, 2013 the state will not issue the new placards until the start of 2014. Disability placards in Illinois must be renewed every four years and 2014 is the year current are due for renewal.
“Those will start in 2014 when we’ll actually have the new placards ready to go out,” said Secretary of State Disability Liaison William Bogdan. “Every single person that has a parking placard in the State of Illinois will have to re-certify with the Secretary of State office. We will require they go bak to their physician and have their physician acknowledge they still meet the eligibility criteria.”
In order to keep doctors honest when they fill out these required forms, the law also calls for a $1000 fine for physicians or healthcare providers who knowingly falsify documentation to allow the handicap exception.
This law also raises fines for parking placard abuse.
Unauthorized use of a disability license plate, decal or placard rises from $500 to $600 and doubles the first offense for forging or even possessing a fake handicap license plate or placard, or using the placard without the authorized user from $500 to $1000.
“People who rely on handicap parking should not be victimized by those who would use fraudulent placards,” Quinn said. “These laws will ensure more fairness and fight fraud across Illinois.”
Quinn also signed another bill Monday targeting a slightly different side of disability placard abuse.
This law imposes heavier penalties on people misusing a deceased person’s handicap placard making it a Class A misdemeanor with a minimum $2,500 fine and mandatory revocation of the offender’s driving license and privileges. The law also raised the fine of a second conviction of simple abuse of a disability placard from $750 to an even $1000 and allows the Secretary of State to suspend or even revoke driving privileges for the offender.
“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. I commend Governor Quinn for signing this important legislation,” said Secretary of State Jesse White.
This law also goes into effect on January 1, 2013.