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Editorial: Disability-parking abuse gets curbed

An Official Illinois handicapped parking placard. | Source: State Illinois

An Official Illinois handicapped parking placard. | Source: State of Illinois

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Updated: August 25, 2012 6:08AM

For unscrupulous people, disability placards have been a way to chisel Chicago out of more than $10,000 a year in free parking on downtown streets.

Gov. Pat Quinn put a stop to that Monday by signing a law ending automatic free parking for people with the placards. After January 2014, only people who are physically unable to access meters will get free parking. Quinn also authorized tougher penalties for people caught using a deceased person’s disability parking placard in handicapped-only spots.

Last year, Sun-Times reporter Chris Fusco partnered with retired Chicago Police Lt. Robert Angone — whose 20-year-old daughter lost her leg to cancer when she was 6 months old — and documented dozens of able-bodied drivers using fake, stolen and relatives’ placards to park for free in metered spots.

The rest of us have to pay for those cheaters. The city’s private meter company has billed $35.5 million for two years of free parking for people using disabled-parking placards or license plates. (The city is disputing the number.)

If more people were simply honorable, laws such as this one would be unnecessary.

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