By Bob Katzen

The House 154-0, Senate 37-0, approved and the governor signed into law a measure cracking down on the misuse of handicapped parking placards including increasing the period of license suspension for wrongful use or display of a placard from 30 to 60 days for a first offense and from 90 to 120 days for a second offense.

Another provision would prohibit the obstruction of the expiration date or placard number and subject an offender to a $50 fine. The measure also prohibits making a false statement on an application for a placard and imposes a fine of $500 for a first offense and $1,000 for subsequent offenses.

Supporters said it is time to crack down on these offenders who are taking spaces that should be used by a handicapped person. They noted a report by the Inspector General revealed widespread abuse of these placards. They noted that many placards still in use belonged to people who had died and said the placards can be used to park all day at most metered spaces, resulting in millions of dollars in lost meter fees to cities and towns.

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