We’ve all seen it happen; somebody pulls into a handicapped parking spot right in front of a store’s door and we see a person who appears healthier than us sometimes jogging to the entrance.

A bill sponsored by Assemblymen Troy Singleton, John Burzichelli and Reed Gusciora to add an extra layer of verification to the process of issuing and renewing person with a disability identification placards used by motorists to access disabled parking has been approved by the Assembly and now awaits further consideration by the Senate.

Handicapped parking (Flickr User: TheDarkThing)

Under current law, handicapped placards issued to individuals with a disability do not have an expiration date. This has led to situations in which people who received a tag while temporarily disabled continued to use the tag and the privileges it confers even after it is no longer needed.

Under the Singleton/Burzichelli/Gusciora bill the term “handicapped” would be replaced with “person with a disability” in keeping with current state law that requires offensive or outmoded terminology be replaced with more acceptable, current language. Allperson with a disability” windshield placards would be issued with a prominently printed and displayed expiration date. Permanent “person with a disability” identification cards and placards would be required to be renewed every three years and the certification of a medical professional would be required for the issuance and/or renewal of a person with a disability identification card or placard.

Instances of abuse involving person with a disability parking tags were first brought to my attention by a concerned constituent with a severe disability who had firsthand experience with the problem,” says Singleton. “After listening to her concerns and talking to my colleagues, we came up with what we think is a simple, yet effective, way to address the problem.”

Burzichelli says, “We’ve all been walking into a restaurant or grocery store at one time or another and have seen high-performance sports cars parked in parking spots reserved for people with disabilities, or watched on a rainy day as an individual parked in a disabled parking spot leapt nimbly from their vehicle and sprinted to their destination.”

Several states, including Florida, California, Pennsylvania, Oregon and Wisconsin have some or all of these restrictions already in place.

“Providing tags to access parking dedicated for people with disabilities is a small way to make daily activities a little less challenging for individuals with disabilities and their families,” explains Gusciora. “So when these tags are abused or misused, it can cause a disruption that cascades throughout the person’s whole day. Adding prominent, visible expiration dates to these tags will help eliminate some of the abuse.”

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