Lawmakers handicapped placard abuse bill goes to Governor’s desk

Bill sets up new penalties for abusing a handicapped placard or plate

BOSTON (WWLP) – Both the House and the Senate have approved a bill that would set further penalties for abusing handicapped parking. They’ve sent the bill to Governor Charlie Baker for his signature.

If you have a handicapped placard, you may know the situation all too well: pulling up to park, only to find that the designated spaces are all taken.

Massachusetts lawmakers sent a bill to Governor Baker’s desk on Wednesday that would set new penalties for abusing a handicapped placard or plate.

Bill targets drivers who abuse handicapped parking placards

They are hoping high fines will help ensure that certified people with disabilities have handicapped parking spaces available when they need them.

“For anybody who abuses it or uses it intentionally in the wrong way, there should be penalties there, because there are only a minimal amount of spaces that are provided,” said Jim Welch (D), West Springfield.

The bill imposes a $500 fine for making a false statement on a handicapped plate or placard application. Future offenses would result in $1,000 fines.

House approves a bill that would punish people who abuse disability parking spaces

A $50 fine would also be imposed for improperly displaying a placard, and $100 for failing to return a revoked or canceled one.

Drivers said the harsh penalties could help ensure handicapped spaces are serving the people who really need them.

“If people are repeat offenders? Absolutely, cause I mean if it’s a slap on the wrist, clearly they’re not learning,” Alexandra Petit-Frere of Chicopee told 22News. “And again, it would unfortunately take a horrible situation where someone couldn’t get the spot that they needed.”

“I have a large contingent of elderly folks, seniors, in my district,” State Rep. Jose Tosado “We need to stop this abuse. we need to take a stand on it.”

The bill now only needs the governor’s signature to become law. Gov. Charlie Baker has ten days to sign the bill.