- Office of the Inspector General (OIG)
Media Contact for Bill Increasing Penalties for Fraud or Misuse of Disabled Persons’ Parking Placards Signed Into Law
Boston — On November 22, 2017, Gov. Charlie Baker signed legislation, Chapter 137 of the Acts of 2017, increasing the penalties for the fraudulent use of disabled persons’ parking placards and enhancing the ability of the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) to prevent ineligible people from receiving or using the placards.
The legislation, filed by State Senator Eileen Donoghue, increased fines, lengthened license suspensions and established criminal penalties for various fraudulent uses of handicapped placards. Donoghue’s bill was modeled on legislation the Office of the Inspector General filed in November 2016, with input and support from the RMV’s Disability Placard Abuse Task Force.
The OIG has conducted several investigations of handicapped placard abuse in downtown Boston during the past 15 years. The investigations found numerous cases of people obscuring or altering a placard’s expiration date, people who did not have a medical need applying for and receiving placards, and individuals using placards issued to other people, including people who had died. A car displaying a disabled persons’ placard can park at a parking meter without paying or observing posted time limits. In all of its investigations, the OIG consistently found individuals illegally using other people’s placards to avoid paying for parking, which can cost $40 or more per day in downtown Boston. The newly enacted legislation:
- Imposes criminal penalties for forging, counterfeiting or stealing a placard.
- Prohibits using a deceased person’s placard, imposing a $500 fine for first-time violators and a $1,000 fine for a second violation.
- Increases the driver’s license suspension for a person wrongfully displaying a placard to 60 days for a first offense and 120 days for a second offense. Prior to enactment, first-time violators’ faced a 30-day suspension and those caught a second time received a 90-day suspension.
- Imposes a $50 fine on individuals obstructing the number or expiration date of a placard.
- Allows the RMV to request additional documentation or information from an applicant to support the medical necessity for a placard.
Members of the RMV Disability Placard Abuse Task Force supported the legislation because it will make handicapped parking more available to those who need it. It is also expected to increase parking revenue for cities and towns by deterring people from wrongfully using a placard.