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Free parking for disabled people at meters restricted in Illinois

Published on February 28th, 2014

In many cities, metered parking is free for drivers or passengers that have a disabled parking pass. This has made getting around easier for many people with disabilities, many of whom receive Social Security disability benefits, due to an inability to work.

However, the trend in many metropolitan areas is to restrict or end the practice of not forcing disabled people to pay for street parking. Among the places to change their policy is the state of Illinois. As of Jan. 1 of this year, only certain conditions will exempt you from possible parking tickets.

Now, to be exempt from parking meters, you must have a disability that makes the physical act of feeding the meter virtually impossible. Qualifying conditions include inability to handles coins, tickets or tokens; trouble reaching to 42 inches above the ground; inability to get to the parking meter because of a wheelchair; or problems walking more than 20 feet.

Just having the condition is not enough. You must get a special yellow-and-grey placard to display in your vehicle. There is an application to get the placard, and a doctor must sign off on it.

Officials say the restrictions are meant to reduce fraudulent use of disabled parking placards. Police in Peoria did not ticket offenders in January, but have begun doing so.

Though this measure may sound controversial, the executive director of the Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities in Illinois says that her group has heard only one complaint so far. She said that, since the city spent months alerting the public to the change, that most disabled residents are not objecting.

Source: Peoria Journal Star, “Peoria police enforcing new handicapped parking law,” Matt Buedel, Feb. 3, 2014

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