Washington DC has begun enforcing its municipal code and will ticket and tow motorists who illegally park in front of handicapped red top parking meters.When you think about handicapped parking spaces, what colors come to mind? Blue and white? Well, in Washington DC, red can also denote handicapped parking. Red top parking meters, by statute, are reserved for handicapped motorists. However, since the red meters were installed in 2012, this statute has gone unenforced. That all changed this week. In order to use these red top parking meters, drivers must have either a handicapped license plate or placard. There is no change in the fee to use these red top meters – roughly $2.30 an hour – and handicapped drivers will have to pay to park. However, handicapped motorists using red top parking meters will be allowed to park for up to four hours at a time, as opposed to the two hour maximum applied to regular meters. “We’re really excited about this program to bring parking for persons with disabilities in the central business district, an area with premium parking, a high demand area,” explained Evian Patterson, the Citywide Parking Manager for the District Department of Transportation. The District of Columbia has between 350 and 400 red top meters, and the hours that motorists need to pay can vary from street to street. However, even if the meter doesn’t need to be fed on weekends or during evening hours, parking there is still limited to disabled motorists. The red top parking meters will be enforced 24/7 and only disabled drivers are allowed to park there. One reason for the new enforcement policy is to de-incentivize fraudsters and freeloaders. In the past, having a handicapped placard or license plate would allow motorists to park in front of red top parking meters for free. This prompted many drivers to use forged placards and plates to avoid having to pay for parking, costing the District significant revenue. Now that handicapped drivers will have to pay to park by the hour as well, there is little incentive for able-bodied drivers to use fake handicapped placards.
Starting on May 8, 2017, motorists who park in front of red top parking meters without a handicapped placard or license plate will face heavy fines and risk having their vehicle towed, at their own expense.
If you are disabled but do not have a handicapped license plate or windshield placard, you can apply for one using the District of Columbia’s Department of Motor Vehicles application form here.