- Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles
Media Contact for Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles Announces This Week is Placard Abuse Prevention Week
Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles Announces This Week is Placard Abuse Prevention Week
BOSTON - The Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) is announcing this week is Placard Abuse Prevention Week, a yearly public service campaign seeking to bring attention and awareness to the misuse of disability parking placards. The RMV, along with the members of the Massachusetts Disability Placard Abuse Task Force, developed Placard Abuse Prevention Week to highlight the seriousness of this issue and use educational messaging and outreach to inform members of the public about stringent penalties for usage of fraudulent credentials.
“Disability placards are issued to individuals who have a documented medical need and should only be used by those individuals,” said Registrar of Motor Vehicles Colleen Ogilvie. “Placard misuse is against the law. We encourage anyone misusing a placard to stop and think twice, think how their behavior is depriving someone with a medical need easy access to do their errands and other essential business.”
The Registry continues to make progress towards curbing placard abuse by educating the public, including during this abuse prevention week, to go online to report fraud: https://www.mass.gov/how-to/report-disability-parking-abuse. In addition, reports of fraud can be phoned in to the Inspector General’s Placard Abuse Hotline at (855) 963-2580. In order to report disability parking abuse, the following information is needed: the vehicle's license plate number, location of the abuse, description of the vehicle, description of the person abusing the disability parking, and the description of activity leading you to believe this is a case of parking abuse.
The Massachusetts Disability Placard Abuse Task Force meets regularly to share information and best practices on fraud reporting procedures and to discuss ways to increase placard training for partners in law enforcement and members of local commissions on disabilities. Task Force members include representatives from the RMV, Massachusetts Office on Disability, Boston’s Commission for Persons with Disabilities, the Office of the Inspector General, the Massachusetts State Police, Boston Police, local law enforcement, the Boston Transportation Department and the Executive Office of Elder Affairs.
The Commonwealth has taken steps to proactively help prevent the misuse of placards through creating more distinguishable features on the placard that can be more easily spotted by law enforcement, developing strict provisions and penalties surrounding enforcement and administrative requirements, and increasing the documentation requirements and verification practices from medical providers to ensure greater accountability. Massachusetts placards feature the image of the issued placard holder and prominently display in bold placard expiration dates for increased enforcement efforts.
The Baker-Polito Administration in 2017 signed into law legislation that imposed criminal penalties for forging, counterfeiting or stealing a placard, prohibited using a deceased individual’s placard and imposed a $500 fine for first-time violators and a $1,000 fine for a second violation, increased 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, and imposed a $50 fine for obstructing the number or expiration date of a placard. The law also allows the RMV to request additional information from an applicant to support the medical necessity for a placard.
The most common forms of disability placard abuse are as follows:
- Using someone else's disability placard, or parking in a disabled parking spot with a disability plate and the disabled person not present;
- Using an expired placard;
- Using an old-style indefinite placard, which has not been valid for use since 2008; and
- Making a counterfeit placard, photocopying, or altering an existing one.
The RMV continually receives, thoroughly reviews, and processes thousands of placard applications each year. In 2021, the Registry:
- Renewed 39,747 placards.
- Issued 23,642 new placards, with 9,400 being “temporary” and 14,242 “permanent.”
Registry information indicates that in 2021, there were 1,449 disability violations issued.