Governor Pat Quinn today signed two new laws that will crack down on unauthorized use of handicap parking placards. The laws will help those with a disability find parking and help municipalities crack down on abuse that raises costs for taxpayers. The governor was joined by legislators, Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White and disability advocates from across Illinois.
"People who rely on handicap parking should not be victimized by those who would use fraudulent placards," Governor Quinn said. "These laws will ensure more fairness and fight fraud across Illinois."
House Bill 5624, sponsored by Rep. Karen May (D-Highland Park) and Sen. Maggie Crotty (D-Oak Forest), increases the initial fine for unauthorized use of a disability license plate or parking decal to $600 (up from $500), and doubles the initial fine for creating or possessing fraudulent disability plates and using a genuine disability placard in the absence of the authorized holder ($1000, up from $500). The new law also imposes an initial fine of $1000 on a physician or other specified healthcare professional who knowingly falsifies a certification for a person who does not have a disability to entitle him or her to a disability license plate or parking decal. The legislation was developed following numerous reports of abuse.
The legislation ends, effective in 2014, the full parking meter fee exemption for those with disability placards and allows the Secretary of State to issue a new meter-exempt decal or placard to people with disabilities who meet certain requirements and who are unable to access or operate a parking meter. Fraud and misuse of this broad exemption have resulted in lost revenue and decreased parking availability for people with disabilities in municipalities across Illinois.
House Bill 5056, sponsored by Rep. John D'Amico (D-Chicago) and Sen. Martin Sandoval (D-Cicero), establishes tougher penalties for the improper use of a deceased person's handicap placard. The law makes the new offense a Class A misdemeanor with a minimum fine of $2,500 and mandatory revocation of the offender's driving privileges. It also raises the fine for a second conviction of misuse of a disability placard from $750 to $1000 and allows the Secretary of State to suspend or revoke driving privileges. The Secretary of State may also revoke or suspend the driving privileges of an offender who violates a similar local ordinance against improper use of disability placards. This bill is an initiative of the Secretary of State's Advisory Committee on Traffic Safety. The Secretary of State oversees 600,000 disabled-parking placards and 82,000 handicap license plates statewide.
"It is against all the laws of human decency for an able-bodied person to deprive a person with a disability of using a disability parking spot. I commend Governor Quinn for signing this important legislation," said Secretary of State Jesse White.
Both laws passed the General Assembly overwhelmingly and are effective Jan 1.