Free meter parking for disabled Washington drivers may be no more



Posted on December 26, 2013 at 6:15 PM

Updated Thursday, Dec 26 at 9:01 PM

SPOKANE, Wash.—Disabled drivers in Washington state may no longer be able to park for free one day in some places, including Downtown Spokane.

Drivers with the blue placards get a free pass at any parking meter but a state panel wants to nix that privilege to reduce fraud.

Peggy Tamblyn has needed a handicap placard for her hip for 15 years. She said it helps in Downtown Spokane on busy shopping days.

Some drivers think taking away that privilege from the disabled is wrong. The state panel said too many drivers are abusing the placards. They said requiring pass holders to feed the meters could reduce fraud.

“I think what would happen is we wouldn't come down and park,” said Tamblyn.

Lawmakers were on break for the holidays in late December but a local representative said a better solution to the problem is to assess a similar penalty for the non-handicap people using placards. Representative Kevin Parker said that would be better than a sweeping law that affects people who currently follow the law.

A new statewide meter exempt pass would still be a few years out.

“The doctors are very strict who they give the passes to so people must be making copies,” said Tamblyn.

Parker said he liked the flexibility given to the Cities to determine their own course of action.

The penalty in Spokane for parking in a handicap parking space is $300.

The state panel said people who cannot physically reach a pay machine should continue to get the free parking pass.

The legislature takes up the panel’s report in January.

Representative Park said he would be surprised if the legislature deals with the issue in a short legislative session since a bill has not been drafted yet.