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State Employees Abuse Handicap Parking Laws

Disabled Parking Enforcement Program

April 30, 2009 - Austin, Texas

Travis County Constable Bruce Eflant joined by members from the Governor’s Commission on People with Disabilities, the Austin Mayor’s Commission on People with Disabilities and Advocacy Incorporated today urged Texas legislators to increase fines for illegally parking in handicap spaces. During a recent sting, Travis County deputy constables wrote 22 handicap parking tickets around the State Capitol Complex for the offense of using another person’s parking placard. Twenty of those tickets were written to state employees. “It is outrageous that so many state employees are using another person’s placard to avoid paying for parking,” said Constable Elfant. “They are preventing others from using these spaces and they are ‘stealing’ from the state and the city.”

Sara Mills of Advocacy Inc. shares her experiences with downtown parking

Constable Elfant cited a recent study conducted by his office that determined 65% of those who use handicap parking placards to park in the downtown area are actually using someone else’s placard in order to park for free at parking meters. It was estimated the City of Austin is losing as much as $500,000 per year in meter revenue. Last year, Dallas reported they were losing about 1.3 million per year. “This abuse is not just occurring at the State Capitol,” said Elfant. “It is occurring throughout Texas and violators have stated to deputies that receiving two or three tickets per year would still be significantly cheaper than paying for parking.”

All speakers urged the Texas Legislature to implement the recommendations of the House Interim Committee on Transportation and the Governor’s Commission on People with Disabilities to increase handicap parking fines – at least for the offense of using another’s placard. SB 52 by Senator Judith Zaffirini contains the recommended fine increase. HB 3095 by Representative Patricia Harless was amended to remove increased fines for the first offense of placard misuse. “Until the penalty for using grandma’s or someone else’s placard exceeds the cost of parking, state employees and others will continue to take their chances on getting caught while denying access for people for whom these spaces were intended,” stressed Elfant.

For additional information contact:

Aaron Bangor, Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities
(512) 377-5732

Sara Mills, Advocacy Incorporated
(512) 454-4816