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More than 19 Nabbed in Disabled Parking Enforcement

But the sweep did not include the Historic District, where merchants and residents have recently complained of illegal parking.

Parking has been a hot topic in the Historic District recently and one repeated complaint has been that that some drivers, including merchants and even a parking enforcement official, have been using disabled parking placards illegally to secure parking on Main Street.

The Howard County Police announced Wednesday that the department worked with the Maryland Motor Vehicle Association (MVA) to find and cite 19 drivers for improper use of disabled parking placards and others who had no tags at all, according to a statement from Howard County Police.

However, none of those citations were issued in the Historic District.

In an Oct. 12 letter to merchants and residents of the Historic District, Director of Special Projects for the Department of Planning and Zoning Steve Lafferty said that he was alerted, through Facebook, that a parking enforcement officer had parked in a space designated for disabled drivers or those driving disabled passengers.

“This violation has been addressed,” Lafferty wrote, “And he will no longer be working in Ellicott City.”

When the county first announced its plans to change Main Street and Maryland Avenue to paid parking in order to encourage turnover on the streets, several merchants spoke up to say that one of the problems was other merchants who were using disabled parking placards inappropriately. 

Lafferty said then that he knew it was a problem and that the county and the police department had worked with the MVA on sweeps of the area in the past.

The recent enforcement operation included the Target store in Columbia Crossing, the Wal-Mart store on Dobbin Road, the Mall in Columbia and Howard Community College, according to a statement from police.

Spokesperson Sherry Llewellyn said that the department has done the sweeps in other locations before and will be doing them again.

Of the 19 drivers who police said were using the placards inappropriately, police said many belonged to family members who were not in the vehicles when cited by police. 

Citations ranged from $140 to $350 depending on the violation. 

“This is a serious issue for members of our community who legitimately need access to disability parking,” Police Chief William McMahon said in a statement.  “We want to send a message to all drivers that these placards should be used only for the people issued the appropriate ID cards.” 

Llewellyn said drivers with disabled parking placards are required to have an ID card that verifies the placard is assigned to them.

Ever wonder what qualifies a person for a disabled parking placard or license plate? In Maryland, according to the MVA, a driver must:

  • Have lung disease.
  • Have cardiovascular disease.
  • Be unable to walk 200 feet without stopping to rest.
  • Be unable to walk without the use of, or assistance from a device or person.
  • Require a wheelchair for mobility.
  • Have lost an arm, hand, foot, or leg. 
  • Have lost the use of an arm, hand, foot, or leg.
  • Have a permanent disability that adversely impacts their ambulatory ability.
  • Have a specific, permanent impairment of both eyes.

Visit the MVA online for more specific guidelines

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M Howard County October 26, 2012 at 10:04 PM
Now it's a "right" to get close-in parking? Just more entitlement thinking from the permanent victim class. Accept it for what it is: a COURTESY that the citizens of the county (state) extend to those who have a tougher time of it. I agree that scofflaws need to be nabbed, and of course, it is the law; just stop turning off otherwise sympathetic folks with the bellicosity.
Brandie Jefferson October 26, 2012 at 10:09 PM
I think this is a terribly sensitive topic and, as someone who happens to have an "invisibile disability," I guess I'll jump in and say that just because someone is on an elliptical machine, or hopping out of a Lamborghini, that doesn't mean that he or she isn't justified in using a tag. Just an FYI. This is why I think that A) This enforcement is so important and B) It's probably pretty difficult to do. This isn't to say, of course, that people don't use the tags illegally, just that we may not know who is doing so just by looking at them.
Mary Z October 29, 2012 at 05:59 PM
I am all about collecting money for the county from people who think they are above the law. It is a voluntary tax. You know the possible consequence before you decide to break the law. And just to stir things up...I feel the same about the speed cameras. Keep collecting money from those that voluntarily break the law. It's that simple. And seriously, you complain that there are too many handicap spaces?? Try being grateful that you don't need one. They should add more, because most (not all) could use the extra steps.
Joe Haupt May 06, 2013 at 09:44 PM
Jay, I recently became disabled and just received a handicapped parking permit. I have a very difficult time walking. I've encountered many wonderful people that help with doors and obstacles; however, I've also encountered too many who obviously have a limited understanding of the difficulties that handicapped people face. Almost daily, I encounter these people in Columbia and Ellicott City. A driver was annoyed because I was walking too slowly in the crosswalk at Kohls and zoomed around me while in the crosswalk. Another person actually ran to get ahead of me to a ticket booth. I'm sorry you're put off by all of this handicap parking nonsense. If you ever find yourself in a position where your mobility is limited, I believe you would be more understanding and considerate of others facing physical challenges.
Truthful May 06, 2013 at 10:34 PM
I have personally watched the parking enforcement agent in Ellicott City, Randy, park his yellow cruiser, grab food and do a little shopping and talk in the antique shop for quite some time. One of the store owners went and checked his meter and it was expired. He then got in his yellow cruiser and drove up to his office. We have also witnessed him warn the store owners and ask them to put money in. He will also sit in certain stores for a very long time and chat. They're so worried about a few people using handicapped yet their own people do what they want! Typical hypocrites! One of the residents filmed him standing there watching an elderly couple go into a business and then walked up and wrote them a ticket. The other enforcement agents seem very nice, but its obvious Randy has been here too long and takes care of his friends! One resident heard one of the business owners telling Randy about the complaints made about him in the Business meeting. Very unprofessional!

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