MVA Administrator John Kuo joined Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett and Montgomery County Police Chief J. Thomas Manger to announce changes to the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration’s (MVA) vehicle registration database to provide law enforcement agencies throughout the state of Maryland with information regarding disability parking privileges. With this state-wide expansion of informational access, Maryland law enforcement agencies have a new, state-of-the-art tool against the illegal use of disability parking placards.
“One of the primary concerns brought to my attention by members of the County’s Commission on People with Disabilities was the abuse of disability parking placards,” said County Executive Isiah Leggett. “I really appreciate that the work of the MVA with our police department to make better enforcement against that abuse possible”
“For those who don’t respect disability parking laws, the message is clear. You will be caught and fined. Disabled parking placards should only be used by those who need them,” said Kuo. “Hopefully, this enforcement will make abusers think twice about taking something that doesn’t belong to them – a placard which allows its rightful owner a necessary, more convenient parking space.”
The Deputy Secretary for the Maryland Department of Disabilities George Failla, Jr., read a proclamation from Governor Martin O’Malley honoring the October observance of National Disability Employment Awareness Month and Maryland Disability Awareness and History Month. The Chairperson of Montgomery County’s Commission on People with Disabilities Trish Gallalee shared her personal experiences and concerns about disabled parking space and placard abuses.
“There are ten violations listed in our Transportation Articles that deal with disabled parking placard abuse,” said Montgomery County Police Chief J. Thomas Manger. “Fines range from $70 to $140 with up to 12 points on your license…and offenders can be charged with multiple violations for the same incident of abuse.”
In November of 2011, Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett announced a new County-wide initiative entitled, “Respect the Space,” which was designed to raise awareness about the proper use of accessible parking spaces reserved for people with disabilities. The initiative was suggested by the County’s Commission on People with Disabilities. The members were concerned about non-disabled people parking in reserved accessible spaces and the abuse of disability parking placards.
The County increased its enforcement of illegal parking in accessible spaces, but needed the assistance of the MVA to better enforce placard abuses. Special Assistant Michael Subin and the Director of the Montgomery County Traffic Division Captain Thomas Didone met with investigators at the MVA including Inspector John Harkins to build a partnership between the agencies that would allow members of law enforcement direct access to the MVA’s internet database of those legally registered for disabled parking placards and plates. The MVA worked diligently to make that a reality.
Beginning in August of 2012, law enforcement officers across Maryland have been able to access the MVA’s database. That in turn allows them to stop offenses when fraud, theft and the abuse of disabled parking privileges occur. With that information, law enforcement can access the vehicle records and determine to whom a disabled parking privilege belongs. Included in the information is the photo of the person to whom disabled parking access has been granted.
The MVA is also working to train local police officers across the state on how to conduct enforcement operations on disabled parking abuses. Disabled parking spaces are reserved for individuals with disabilities who have a disabled parking license plate or placard issued with the universal wheelchair symbol, by the MVA. October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month and Maryland Disability Awareness and History Month. The MVA and Montgomery County officials want to raise awareness on the proper use of disability placards. The illegal use of disability parking placards infringes upon the rights of citizens with disabilities and now immediately becomes an enforceable violation.
For more information about how to obtain a disability parking placard and guidelines for its legal use, click on www.mva.Maryland.gov and look under “Vehicle Services” - Disability Placards. For more information about the Respect the Space initiative, go to the County’s website at www.montgomerycountymd.gov and click on the Respect the Space icon on the homepage.