Weatherford State Rep. Phil King Wants to Crack Down on Handicapped Parking Fraud
A couple years back when I was on the Preston Hollow beat, I accompanied Dallas police on what just might go down as the most boring ride-along in history. This wasn't some Cops-style chronicle of the dangerous work of Dallas' finest, but a plodding search for cars illegally parked in handicapped spaces. It's so low on the department's priority list the city actually enlists citizen volunteers to help write citations, which is what my story was about.
It'd be a stretch to call handicapped parking fraud a scourge, but it is a perennial inconvenience to people for whom the spaces are reserved, and a source of frustration for able-bodied Dallasites forced to walk a few extra feet, sometimes in the bright sunshine, IS THERE NO VALET HERE WHAT THE HELL?
The illegal parkers we encountered on the ridealong were all spur-of-the-moment scofflaws who, say, pulled their Jag into a vacant space at NorthPark so they could get in and out of Neiman's in a jiffy. Others put a lot more thought into their crime, producing counterfeit placards to hang from their rear-view mirrors (the officer showed me a drawer full of these that had been confiscated).
Some actually apply for and receive valid placards from the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, falsely claiming to be disabled. There's an assigned space in hell for these people, and it's a long-ass walk from the cafeteria.
This last strategy is also the target of a bill filed this week by Rep. Phil King, a Weatherford Republican. HB 757 imposes a civil penalty of $750 to $1,000 on any health provider who falsely claims that a patient is disabled for the purposes of securing handicapped parking.
How the law would be enforced, short of requiring every applicant to go to the DMV for a full physical, isn't clear. Sniffing out expired or fake placards is already a needle-in-a-haystack type exercise. Tying legitimate placards that were improperly obtained seems nearly impossible. It's possible you could punish medical professionals who hand out disability affidavits like adderall in a college library, but that seems tough too. It really seems like the shitty-parking-spot-in-hell thing is the most practical solution.