Legislation Assemblymen Troy Singleton, John J. Burzichelli and Reed Gusciora sponsored to add an extra layer of verification to the process of issuing and renewing disabled person identification placards used by motorists to access disabled parking was released Thursday by the Assembly Transportation, Public Works and Independent Authorities Committee.
“Instances of abuse involving disabled persons parking tags were first brought to my attention by a concerned constituent with a severe disability who had firsthand experience with the problem,” said Singleton (D-Burlington). “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.”
Under current law, “handicapped” placards issued to individuals with a disability do not have an expiration date. This has led to situations in which individuals 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 (A-2947), the following changes would be made concerning the issuance and renewal of temporary and permanent disabled person identification cards and placards:
- The term “handicapped” would be replaced with “disabled,” in keeping with current state law that requires offensive or outmoded terminology be replaced with more acceptable, current language;
- All disabled persons windshield placards would be issued with a prominently printed and displayed expiration date;
- Permanent disabled persons 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 disabled persons identification card or placard.
“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 disabled parking spots or watched on a rainy day as an individual parked in a disabled person’s space leapt nimbly from their vehicle and sprinted to their destination,” said Burzichelli (D-Gloucester). “Making these common-sense changes to the law will ensure that we see less of these types of scenarios in the future.”
“Providing tags to access disabled persons parking is a small way to make daily activities a little less challenging for the disabled individual and their families,” said Gusciora (D-Mercer). “So when these tags are abused or misused, it can cause a disruption that cascades throughout the disabled person’s whole day. Adding prominent, visible expiration dates to these tags will help eliminate some of the abuse.”
Several states, including Florida, California, Pennsylvania, Oregon and Wisconsin have some or all of these restrictions already in place. The measure now heads to the Assembly Speaker, who decides if and when to post it for a floor vote.