Perspectives vary on new disabled parking pass requirement

Keke Collins bio | email

Charleston, SC (WCSC) -  A new law that took effect at the beginning of this year is fueling mixed opinion among disabled drivers.

It requires disabled people to have a photo on their parking passes.

"I'm all for it. It will stop people like Grandma Moses from getting a handicap sticker, leaving it in her van and little sister Suzy driving the van and deciding she doesn't want to walk... It will stop a lot of abuses," said Richard Bruggemann.

Disabled since 1997, Bruggemann has relied on others to drive him using his disabled parking placard.

While Bruggemann is in full support of the new requirement, others in the disabled community say it is putting them in harm's way.

"I don't feel very safe with that.  I feel like if you're going to a grocery store or something by yourself...your picture is sitting out there on a tag.  People know what you look like...they may have seen you go into the store by yourself and they know that's the only person, that's what you saw and they're waiting on you to come out.  I don't feel safe with that at all," said Barbara Hinton, a disabled woman who currently uses a placard.

The photo requirement won legislative approval in June 2009.

It remains to be seen if it will help zero in on people abusing the parking privilege.

"The enforcement will be pretty much the same as it always has been…I think the biggest benefit may be as a deterrent.  The photograph on the placard clearly will identify the person who that placard is issued to," said Colleen Carducci, the executive director of the agency which oversees parking enforcement for the city of Charleston.

According to city records, in 2009 parking enforcement staff issued 136 citations to people illegally using disabled parking passes.

Offenders are slapped with a $100 fine and the placard is confiscated.

According to the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles, disabled drivers must have their picture put on the placard when it expires or by December 13, 2012, which ever comes first.

Drivers are also now required to carry a certificate in the car listing every disabled person in the household who drives the vehicle.

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