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    Document Summary
    - Report Published -

    Senate Document No. 41
    PUBLICATION YEAR 1994

    Document Title
    Study of Parking for Persons with Disabilities

    Author
    Department of Rights of Virginians with Disabilities

    Enabling Authority
    SJR 253 (Regular Session, 1993)

    Executive Summary
    Senate Joint Resolution 253 directed the Department for Rights of Virginians with Disabilities to study parking spaces reserved for persons with disabilities; identification of those spaces; standards for issuance of license plates, decals, and permits entitling vehicles displaying them to use those spaces; and mechanisms for enforcing the reservation of those spaces.

    For many persons with disabilities, which limit or impair their mobility, the provision of safe and accessible parking enhances their opportunities for remunerative employment and full and equal participation in the social and economic life of the Commonwealth.

    In the Commonwealth it is highly desirable that reserved parking spaces for persons with disabilities be available for those who genuinely need them. Therefore, the Code of Virginia establishes requirements for accessible parking. Despite the efforts made by the Commonwealth to ensure that parking for persons with disabilities is available, chronic misuse is reported, and many entities open to the public do not have appropriate accessible parking. The state laws which govern who qualifies for accessible parking permits are vague, difficult to enforce and perhaps contradictory. The laws governing the identification of accessible spaces are often unobserved and unenforced. These shortcomings in the laws lead to misuse and abuse which result in limiting the availability of accessible parking spaces for individuals with mobility limitations who legitimately need them.

    A thorough examination of these issues was conducted by a Study Team composed of representatives from the Department of Motor Vehicles, Department of Housing and Community Development, Virginia Municipal League, Virginia Association of Counties, Department of Health, Centers for Independent Living, and Mayors' Committees for Persons with Disabilities. The Study Team made the following recommendations:

    1. The Code of Virginia should be changed to include a definition for "public parking lot" and "parking lot open to the public;"

    2. All parking lots and facilities, public and open to the public, should provide accessible parking regardless of construction date;

    3. Language in the Code of Virginia should be "person first language," i.e., changing "handicapped person" to "person with a disability;" and

    4. Where possible, the Code of Virginia should reflect the designation requirements and guidelines established in the ADA and Federal DOT regulations.

    5. The sections of the Code of Virginia pertaining to the issuance of accessible parking permits should be rewritten to eliminate obsolete language, duplication and confusion;

    6. The Code Virginia should be changed to include definitions for:

    a. "individual with a disability which limits or impairs mobility" as outlined in the Federal Department of Transportation Regulations,
    b. "Disabled parking license plate,"
    c. "Removable windshield placard," and
    d. "Temporary removable windshield placard;"

    7. The definition of "individual with a disability which limits or impairs mobility" should include a category for physician discretion;

    8. The information on the windshield placard identifying the placard holder and showing the expiration date should be large, easy to read and permanent;

    9. Temporary permits should be issued for no more than six months and be renewable only with physician verification;

    10. Temporary placards should be returned upon expiration;

    11. The application process should be such that it reduces or eliminates fraud;

    12. The Commonwealth should continue to allow organizations to obtain windshield placards for volunteers to use while transporting persons with mobility impairments;

    13. Disabled veterans should have the option to obtain either accessible parking windshield placards or DV license plates displaying the Universal Symbol of Access to take advantage of the accessible parking privileges; and

    14. All persons requesting accessible parking windshield placards or license plates should have to obtain physician's verification of a mobility limitation.

    15. A system for tracking and dissemination of information on windshield placards and license plates should be developed;

    16. Vehicles displaying accessible parking windshield placards or license plates should be allowed to park in restricted zones for a length of time not to exceed four hours, except when local ordinances allow for longer periods of time; and

    17. When parking at a parking meter, vehicles displaying accessible parking windshield placards and license plates should be exempt from paying the parking meter fee when access to the meter is obstructed.