City Hall next year plans to crack down on drivers who fraudulently use disabled-parking placards to park free at meters and in more convenient spots elsewhere, officials said today.
Karen Tamley, commissioner of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, said the crackdown is a “priority of ours in the coming year . . . looking at ways we can eliminate the abuse of those.”
One plan is to get the City Council to pass an ordinance that would allow police to impound the vehicles of those abusing the placards. Impoundment fees and fines in such cases could top $1,000, officials said.
“I would argue that that fine should be dramatically increased,” said Ald. Brendan Reilly, 42nd, who represents much of downtown, where he says placards are abused more because of the demand for parking spaces.
“This is a serious abuse,” Reilly added. “I would say let’s talk to the Law Department and find a way to max out that fine and truly punish folks that do this.”
Tamley conceded enforcement can be difficult. Police must get identification from the driver of the vehicle using the placard and compare his or her birth date to the one hole-punched on the placard. If it doesn’t match, the driver is cited, she said.
Some folks use placards properly issued to relatives, Tamley said. The placard, which allows for free parking at all metered city spaces, can be used if it was legitimately obtained by either the vehicle’s driver or one of the driver’s passengers.
Ald. Richard Mell, 33rd, said he knows someone who still has a placard four years after having had a hip replaced, even that the person now gets around fine.
“I try to tell him, ‘It’s really kind of a disservice that take a spot away from somebody who really needs it,' ” Mell said. “For me, I would never park in one of those spots because that’s bad karma.”
The city also is looking for ways to eliminate abuse of a program that allows for the carving out of designated disabled parking spaces in residential areas, Tamley said.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun