City of Chicago to start enforcing new disability parking law Thursday
By CHRIS FUSCO Staff Reporter January 15, 2014 12:56PM
City Hall has been posting signs, including this one along Wabash Avenue, warning that most disabled-parking placard holders will now have to feed parking meters. | Michael R. Schmidt-For Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 17, 2014 8:34AM
Starting Thursday, the city of Chicago will begin enforcing a new state law aimed at stopping able-bodied drivers from illegally using disabled-parking placards to avoid having to feed parking meters.
Under the law that took effect Jan. 1, only drivers who have a yellow-and-gray “meter-exempt permanent placard” can park free at metered spaces. To get those placards, drivers must have their doctors attest that they are physically incapable of feeding meter payboxes.
Until now, anybody who hung a conventional blue or red disabled-parking placard or had handicapped license plates could park for free all day long in any metered spot in Illinois.
As of Thursday, people who display the blue and red placards without feeding meter payboxes will be hit with “expired meter” parking tickets, which carry fines of $65 downtown and $50 elsewhere in the city.
The new law was designed to keep drivers from using relatives’ placards — as well as stolen and fake placards — to avoid paying parking rates that have been rising since 2009 under a meter-privatization deal championed by former Mayor Richard M. Daley.
That deal also requires City Hall to reimburse Chicago Parking Meters LLC — the private company that took over metered parking from the city — for most free parking provided to drivers who displayed disability placards or plates. Those payments that have totaled more than $55 million since 2010.