Handicap Placards Being Abused in Boston

A report from the Massachusetts Inspector General's Office found that handicap parking placard abuse is costing Boston about $1.8 million a year - they found plenty of people who don't have disabilities using them.

Some of them even worked in construction.

"People are abusing handicap placards," said Inspector General Glenn Cunha.

His office spent two months searching for people who use the placards without having disabilities.

"Through our surveillance, we found 23 people that were abusing handicapped placard," he said. "They are using expired placards, other people's placards, deceased people's placards."

Some placards were even bought - one person paid $300 for one. And if that's shocking, think about the savings - these placards allow drivers to park at any meter for free. Parking in a garage can cost thousands of dollars a year, while the fine for abusing a handicap placard is just $500.

The placards also allow you to park up front, in any handicap parking spaces.

"It's not so much the proximity, a lot of times it's the space, the size of the space, that allows me to open my car door fully," said Christine Griffin, the executive director of the Disability Law Center. "So a lot of times, what people don't realize is by taking that space, you're depriving me of parking at all."

Thirty years ago, Griffin was paralyzed in a car accident, and now must use a wheelchair to get around.

"It is difficult, especially in a city like this, to actually find parking to begin with," she said. "To find out that other people that don't need it are taking it is difficult."

Cunha has also released a list of recommendations on how to reduce this abuse. One way is to stiffen the penalty - right now, it's $500 and a 30-day lost of license. He says he'd like to see it increased to $1,000 and a 60-day loss of license - that's something Griffin says would be a good idea.

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