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.

24 Responses to Quinn Signs Law Ending Free Meter Parking For Disabled

  1. Drew says:

    About damn time!

  2. Capt M-Plate says:

    I’m wondering why the Sec State just doesn’t have all 2014 placards be recalled and make everyone reapply for new ones in 2013?

    Not that hard…..when you consider that out of the 600k that are in use….probably only 5% deserve free meter parking.

    And what are we going to do about the out of state HCP plates and placards that seem to be so prevalent in this city?

  3. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    I think the reasoning is, the natural 4 year cycle ends 12/31/2013 and everyone will need to get their new placard anyways for 2014. Less disruption to the system.

    But, it’s only going to cost the City of Chicago $10-$20 million for that extra year of free disabled parking at meters. Hah!

  4. Decimus Iunius Juvenalis says:

    The irony is that public employees are BY FAR the worst abusers of the handicapped/metered parking. Here’s a little test: At 9:00 a.m walk over to some metered parking areas in the loop near the County Building or the State of Illinois Building (i.e. places where lots of government workers are) 90% + of the spots have handicapped hand tags. No go to metered spaces in, say, the financial district or the Mag Mile. Maybe 10-20% handicapped. Strange coincidence, no?

  5. The Parking Ticket Geek says:

    Decimus Iunius Juvenalis,

    Your theory would be hard to prove.

    But, my gut tells me your hypothesis is most likely true. Some TV news stings in the past in these areas always seems to pick up someone in government abusing a disability placard. The one I remember turned out to be a Federal Govt. employee.

  6. Linda says:

    Does anyone have compassion for people with actual disabilities? It seems like people are assuming that everyone who has a disabled placard is using a fake or stolen one.

  7. DoR Employee says:


    No one here thinks that everyone that has a HCP plate or placard is a scammer; however the simple fact is that Quinn and White have woken up to the fact that not all of the people that have disability plates/placards need free metered parking all day every day. I agree with the stipulations set by the Gov and Sec state.

    Unless you are physically visibly restrained to a wheel chair…or can not manipulate a ATM card swipe reader….pay to park.


  8. Pete says:

    Public employees have been conditioned to entitlement throughout their entire careers, so no surprise they feel entitled to free parking as well. And in Illinois (state motto: I’ve got mine; screw everyone else) it is perfectly OK to get what you want however you can, even if its technically illegal and unethical.

  9. Capt M-Plate says:

    Pete…that is why I go out of my way to Ticket City and State Employees.

    They need to learn the lesson more than the average citizen.

  10. The Parking Ticket Geek says:

    God bless you Capt.

  11. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    That prevailing entitlement attitude needs to be smacked out of many (but not all) of our local, county and state public employees.

  12. DoR Employee says:


    forgot this story was here.

  13. Tisha Stallings says:

    I think this crazy. I feel like they are cracking down on disabled people. A lot of the disable people are on disability and don’t have jobs, so I don’t understand why they are making them pay for parking. And What happens if someone comes here from another state and don’t know about or have the mete free tags? I think this whole thing is just so stupid.

  14. Mary says:

    This is only a drop in the bucket. What are they going to do to the people who park in handicap designated spots in parking lots everywhere? According to the law stores and such who have spots for handicapped drivers/persons with disabilities are private property. Police can not ticket these people who are by an large a bigger problem, unless the store calls the police to come out and issue a ticket. In my experience NO manger or store employee ever wants to do this. I constantly see people with placards literally “run” into a store after parking in a handicapped designated spot. They just get away with it. Why should handicapped drivers have to suffer just because Chicago can’t pay it’s bills, and because they started a parking meter program that has come back to bite them. Make a disabled parking program that works and that does not punish the disabled person. If Illinois collected half the fines they should in any given year, it could probably solve most of it’s financial problems. Just because they think disabled people won’t speak up or that they can be overlooked. Shameful! I lived my whole life with a disability and have never seen a state with such little care or compassion for it’s disabled citizens.

  15. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    I’m with you when it comes to enforcing parking spots designated for handicapped plates/placards.

    But, I don’t understand why someone with a disability placard or plate can’t feed the meter like the rest of us?

    Of course, some people physically can’t feed a parking meter, but most people with placards can. Can you share some thoughts with us on this?

  16. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    I’m with you when it comes to enforcing parking spots designated for handicapped plates/placards.

    But, I don’t understand why someone with a disability placard or plate can’t feed the meter like the rest of us?

    Of course, some people physically can’t feed a parking meter, but most people with placards can. Can you share some thoughts with us on this?

  17. Bohicasis says:

    I can give a word for “Mary”. The amount rcvd after yrs of hard work barely makes it from month to month once one becomes disabled. I am appalled at the rates they are now charging at parkign meters. Where once it was almost in my budget to go somewhere,I now sched my doctor and other apointments according to where they are located because I can not afford to take my son or myself to a needed apointment. If i know i have to go back for another MRI or MRA or test of any sort, I have to think of what time of the month it is and where I am in my budget to park. I am diabled and DO NOT have a placard. I did not apply for one even though i meet the guidelines. Personaly, my vehicle is big enough that if I backedout of a spot, I may not see someone of smaller stature behind me. And forget riding the bus_Do you realy think those punk kids get up for a disabled person? Not a chance. Just trying to get to and from somewhere is so taxing taking multiple busses ( i cannot navigate the trains) that I can not make it home in one day. I can barely make through the grocery store before I have to fall asleep. Hence, I have a bed in the back of my van and a service animal to tend to me.
    What really ires me though is seeing the many cars in the disabled spots WITHOUT the proper placard or plate.Taxi drivers running into Walgreens are no exception. I clearly pointed out one to a police officer who was in the store and nothing was done.
    There is abuse already in the system that is heaped on the consumer. I have already reported Medicare fraud on Swedish Hosp and one doctor. Once they see you have Medicare_the things they tack on is incredible. Or the abuse by billing when you havent even been to the Hospital.

  18. DoR Employee says:

    Actually there is a Chicago Municipal Ordinance on the Books that allows for Private Property enforcement of HCP spaces by the Police and PEA’s (but PEA’s are never allowed to do it.).

    Plus since HCP Plate/Placard mis-use/fraud is a Misdemeanor now, Criminal Offenses are not granted protection from enforcement because they might occur on private property.

    Mary…Chicago Politicians didn’t sponsor the Bill. Highland Park’s Rep did. Chicago didn’t Fight it because of Math.

    1 Car with HCP Plates or PLacard costs the City of Chicago 1 full days rate on a Meter…2.00 per hour outside the Loop and around 4.00 per hour in the Loop. 24 hour meters in the Loop…24 * 4 = 96.00 per space per vehicle.

    People with LEGIT HCP issues deserve all consideration. But with the Highest Meter Rates in the State…People are crawling out of the woodwork with scam’s to park for free. Pay attention to the Stings that the State Police and City Police do that make the Paper…

    People are getting Nailed for misuse of someone Elses Placard or for Placards that belong to the Dead or even Forged or Altered Placards.

  19. Tim Stapleton says:

    If the state is going to do this You would think they, at the least, would make an exception for Disabled Veteran plates. The all of the vets I know who have a state DAV plate absolutely are disabled. The scrutiny given to them just to get it is extensive. Just a thought that I will be running across my State Rep. I hope others agree and do the same.

  20. DoR Employee says:


    Vets with a Disability that prevents them from being able to Operate a Paybox or ATM is the litmus being applied to non-Vet Disabled.

    These are the requirements to qualify:

    Types of Disabilities That Will Qualify an Applicant
    For Meter Exempt Parking
    • Patient cannot manage, manipulate or insert coins, or obtain tickets or
    tokens in parking meters or ticket machines in parking lots due to the lack
    of fine motor control of BOTH hands.
    • Patient cannot reach above his/her head to a height of 42 inches from the
    ground due to a lack of finger, hand or upper-extremity strength or
    • Patient cannot approach a parking meter due to his/her use of a
    wheelchair or other device for mobility.
    • Patient cannot walk more than 20 feet due to an orthopedic, neurological,
    cardiovascular or lung condition in which the degree of debilitation is so
    severe that is almost completely impedes the ability to walk.

    If you can Use an ATM machine and walk from your car to the front door of your House/Apt…you don’t qualify for a Free Pass.

  21. Irene Mazur says:

    For those of you who don’t understand the difficulty of the handicapped feeding parking meters, try to put yourselves in our shoes for just a moment. It wouldn’t be so difficult if the old parking meter system had been kept in place. But when someone who struggles painfully with walking or standing problems has to walk half a block to a paybox, then back to their car with a receipt before heading toward their original destination, it places undue hardship on them. This hardship is further compounded when pavements are wet, icy or buried in snow. Not every physical disability shows on the outside or requires the constant use of a cane, walker, wheelchair or crutches, but that doesn’t mean the disabled person isn’t in intense pain or that all of the “armchair physicians” out there are any experts on their disabilities. Starting January 1, 2014, I refuse to feed any payboxes or park on any metered streets in Chicago and will gladly take all of my commercial business to the suburbs where parking lots are abundant. Since I live in the northernmost part of Chicago, this will be very easy for me to do. Perhaps Governor Quinn should spend more of his time enforcing parking penalties on those able-bodied individuals who park in the striped access lanes next to spaces reserved for the handicapped. They are not parking spaces. They are for those handicapped individuals who might need to use a ramp and wheelchair to exit their vehicles!

  22. Carol Routt says:

    I totally agree with you Irene. I live in southern Illinois and am not applying for a meter exempt status just a parking placard. I have MS and have had a parking placard for years but because I can walk 200ft my doctor won’t sign the renewal form in fear of loosing his drivers license and being fined which I think is pretty ridiculous. So when my current placard expires I’ll have to do without. Thanks Gov. Quinn.

  23. Diane D says:

    Jealous? This need not be a zero sum game, where A can only ‘win’ if B ‘loses’. It’s an old ploy to divide and conquer. The REAL issue: why can’t EVERYONE have free parking. The rates are WAYYY to high. THINK, people!!!

  24. kaio says:

    I am a recent above knee amputee. here’s my feedback. there are too many offenders misusing this benefit. i see it all the time. this would have been a good law if only the city had made some provisions for providing handicap parking at public CTA transportation stops so we could use mass transit. Before my amputation, i didnt have to think or plan my commute but now i do so that forces me to drive my car. i wish i could just drive my car to a train station and park it there for the day for free and take the train.

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