Olympia Curbs Unauthorized Use of Disabled Parking Placards

This year's state legislative session in Olympia included passage of an important bill that will help curb the rampant unauthorized use of disabled parking placards within Seattle. For years, people without disability have illegally used the placards to get free street parking, taking spaces away from those who need it most.

People have expressed concern about what appears to be unauthorized use of the placards. Indeed it is true. In 2011, Seattle reported that over half of disabled placards were being used fraudulently. That's not fair to our disability community, and it's not fair to other drivers who need on-street parking and would pay for it.

After several years of stakeholder working groups, with input from our Seattle Police Department and Department of Transportation, HB 2463 passed the House and Senate unanimously shortly before the State Legislature adjourned this year. The bill will be signed into law by Governor Inslee in the coming weeks.

I have personally advocated to state legislators to take on this issue and to pass reform legislation. We just squeaked through with victory in the final days.

HB 2463 takes several steps to decrease the number of unlawful uses of special parking privileges for persons with disabilities. The bill:

  • Establishes a parking infraction for improper display of a parking placard.
  • Allows a court to order surrender of a parking placard for a violation of laws regarding special parking privileges for persons with disabilities.
  • Creates a misdemeanor for the sale of a parking placard.
  • Requires a health care practitioner to authorize and renew special parking privileges.

I thank members of the House and Senate for passing this important piece of legislation. I also thank members of the disability community who worked with me to make sure this bill does not negatively impact them.

More work on transportation issues remains to be done in Olympia, including passage of a comprehensive transportation bill that addresses our long and growing list of transit and infrastructure needs throughout the state. I look forward to continuing to work with state legislators on transportation issues and other issues affecting the disability community in Seattle.

For more information on Seattle's disabled parking regulations, visit Disabled Parking in the City of Seattle on the Seattle Department of Transportation’s website. For information on applying for or renewing a disabled parking placard, visit Disabled Parking on the Washington State Department of Licensing website.

Seattle City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen contributed this article. He has served on the Seattle City Council since 2004. A longtime advocate for seniors and people with disabilities, Councilmember Rasmussen previously directed the Seattle Mayor's Office for Senior Citizens. For more information, visit www.seattle.gov/council/rasmussen.