A debate rages on in America over the part of the American Disabilities Act (ADA) that gives special consideration to handicapped individuals using metered parking on the street. Some question whether a number of disabled Americans are taking advantage of the system by parking at meters for free for hours and even days on end. Although the ADA requires special dispensation for the handicapped, cities vary widely on how they enforce this ruling.
Who Is “Handicapped”?
A doctor must certify those with any physical injury or impairment that restricts their ability to walk as handicapped and file the necessary paperwork required with the State. If approved, the State will issue either a handicapped license plate or a placard to be hung from the rearview mirror.
Those displaying either the proper plates or a placard are entitled to use marked handicapped spots in parking lots and garages, though they are still required to pay for the space if it’s a pay lot. Handicapped drivers may park on the street in blue (designated handicapped zones) and green-marked curbs, usually without time restrictions. Check the laws of your state to see if any restrictions apply.
Check the laws of your city and state: Every city and state has its own version of handicapped parking rules in regard to parking meters. Some cities, such as Los Angeles and Chicago, allow those in marked handicapped vehicles to park at meters for free for as long as they like, regardless of the meter’s time limits. Other cities, such as Washington, D.C., and Portland, Maine, allow free parking at meters, but only for double the posted time limit. In Ashville, N.C., merchants are hoping the city government will force handicapped drivers—though allowed to park for as long as they like at any meter—to feed the meter like everyone else in the hope that it will discourage people from taking advantage of the system at the expense of merchants.