BOSTON – Senator Sal DiDomenico and his colleagues in the Massachusetts Senate passed recently passed Senate Bill 2168, An Act Relative to Handicapped Parking. S.2168 combats handicapped parking fraud and implements the recent recommendations addressing this important public safety issue from the Office of the Inspector General of Massachusetts.
“The chronic misuse of handicap placards is reprehensible, as it keeps individuals with disabilities from finding much-needed accessible parking, said Senator DiDomenico. “By cracking down on offenders, this bill takes critical measures to reduce handicap parking fraud and help disabled residents throughout the Commonwealth.”
The 2016 Inspector General’s report entitled “The Abuse of Disability Parking Placards in Massachusetts” revealed rampant abuse of handicapped placards. The IG and State Police identified more than 300 cars that parked in downtown Boston using special parking identification placards issued to other people. The Office of the Inspector General has investigated the misuse of handicapped placards for 15 years and repeatedly found drivers using expired placards and placards that had been issued to individuals who had since died.
The bill changes powers and procedures at the Registry of Motor Vehicles to curtail handicap placard abuse. S.2168 empowers the RMV to require proper documentation before issuing a handicapped placard, and expands the RMV’s ability to detect and punish placard abuse.
The bill imposes fines of $500 for a first offense and $1000 for a subsequent offense for those who lie to obtain or replace a handicapped placard; strengthens license-suspension for misusing a handicapped placard; creates a $100 fine for those who do not return a revoked or canceled handicapped placard; and allows for fines or imprisonment for those acting with intent to distribute placards illegally.
The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.