Governor Charlie Baker has signed a bill that would increase penalties for people who misuse disability parking credentials.
The bill, which also increases the authority of the Registry of Motor Vehicles to investigate fraudulent applications for handicapped placards, passed 37-0 in the state Senate in October after a 2016 report from the state inspector general found people were misusing placards in every Boston neighborhood that was surveilled.
“The use of disability parking placards should be reserved for our most vulnerable residents,” Baker said in a statement.
The new law prohibits people from using a handicapped plate or placard issued to a dead person, increases license suspension time for wrongfully displaying a plate or placard, and penalizes those who obstruct the number or expiration date on a plate or placard.
The fine for using a dead person’s handicapped parking identification is $500 for a first offense and $1,000 for a second or subsequent offense.
If you wrongfully display a placard, your license will be suspended for 60 days as opposed to 30 days for a first offense, and 120 days instead of 90 days for a second offense.
The fine for obstructing the placard number or expiration date is $50.
It is also a crime to forge, steal, or counterfeit a placard under the new law.
Baker held a ceremonial bill signing on Monday.
“Plain and simple, placards are to help people with disabilities,” Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack said in the statement. “Those who would use them fraudulently are breaking the law and should be held accountable with higher fines, a license suspension or other criminal penalties that are deemed appropriate.”
Senate President Stanley C. Rosenberg called the misuse of handicapped parking identification “a shameful practice,” and House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo described the practice as “disrespectful” and “dangerous” in the statement.