Lax law enforcement is the main problem, says Christina Ulrich, who has had a placard for 28 years and carries a registration card that identifies her as the registered person:
The law does not enforce any of the rules in the first place. Half the time nobody has a handicapped card yet they park in a handicapped spot. And the law enforcement rides right by, and they don’t write a ticket. If these people got tickets they would stop parking where they don’t belong in the first place.
Annie Formo of Wilson, whose husband has a handicapped placard, agrees.
I believe that most police officers have the ability to approach drivers to question their handicap. If there is an ID card the problem would be simple. The big problem is with the indignant people who already know they are guilty and I am sure an officer could handle that problem.
It certainly is true that enforcement is spotty and inconsistent. In Raleigh's downtown central business district, for example, where one out of every three or four parked cars has a handicapped placard, records show that police have not written a single ticket for a handicapped parking violation in years.
Jesse Cavenar asks if today's story means that people with handicapped privileges don't have to feed parking meters: "Are you referring to metered parking, and saying that a person with a handicap placard or license tag can park at a meter and ignore the meter?"
For the most part, yes. State law is ambiguous about parking meters and handicapped drivers.
Charlotte interprets the law to say that a handicapped parker can use a meter all day, or for days and days, as long as he or she keeps feeding the meter. Raleigh and other towns interpret it to mean that they cannot write tickets for an expired meter if the car has a handicapped placard.
Raleigh officials wish the legislature would clarify or rewrite this law -- because, I think, they'd like handicapped parkers to feed those meters, too. Legislators need a lot of support before they'll summon the courage to write any new laws that could be construed as reducing the rights of handicapped citizens.