Oh, why not. I guess this is a ‘dog bites man’ story but what the heck. The LA Times is reporting that the California DMV is issuing tens of thousands (and maybe more) handicapped placards to residents who are dead. Read about it here.
No surprise here. The DMV issues 2.1 million disabled placards each year. About 100,000 are returned (wrong address, etc). The organization did a database check and found 56,000 of the ones sent out were sent to the deceased. But the database, it seems, is two years out of date.
In addition to the placards sent the permanently disabled (the 2.1 million noted above), hundreds of thousands of temporary and new permanent permits are issued each year. The cost to do all this? $12 million.
The problem? The DMV seems unable to determine who is living or dead. I guess its not on the top of someone’s list to notify them when a loved one passes away. And it seems that this just might be an issue, since a large number of permits are issued to senior citizens. They check databases, but the data is two years out of date.
According to the article, a court ruling on the Americans with Disabilities act says that you can’t charge a fee for the permits. HUH? Where did that come from? OK, I suggest giving the permit for free but charging the recipient for parking. That would go a long way to solving the problem. My guess is that the number of permits requested would halve.
Second, have the person re-register periodically — maybe every other year. This would filter out even more that had passed away, and also require that a doctor’s note be required for the registration. That would filter out some that were gaming the system.
Third, talk to someone (can you say legislator) and get the rules changed so a fee can be charged. Six bucks isn’t going to keep anyone who can afford a car (with handicapped controls) from getting a permit. It certainly isn’t discriminatory, we charge fees for everything else. It would generate enough money to cover the cost of administering the program and at the same time filter even more who are trying to get unauthorized permits.
Fourth — I think its time to release the names of people ticketed for abusing the permits. There is a story today on the ‘net about Andrey Bynum, center for the LA Lakers, who was caught on tape using a handicapped spot while loading groceries. This should be embarrassing for him, and maybe will send a message. Why not list all the people who are caught this way? Let the word get around that so in so is a cheat who takes parking spaces from the sick and infirm.
Fifth — promote an app on cell phones that enables people who see illegally parked cars in handicapped spots or obvious violations of the permit, to photograph the cars and send the info the the cops. The police can then follow up. (I would also send out “post it notes” style stickers that say “You were caught abusing the handicapped permit, The police are on the way.”) so parking vigilantes can stick them on a car’s window.
In the mean time, the California Highway Patrol notes that about 1/3 of all disabled placards are used illegally. This, the article says, costs the cities big bucks in parking revenue. Of course it neglects to mention the moral and ethical problems with taking a space reserved for a truly handicapped person.
I have been railing about this issue for years now, but except for the periodic “sting” operation nothing much seems to have been done.