A growing number of states and cities are cracking down on handicap parking scofflaws with stiffer fines and placards that are less susceptible to fraudulent use, reports USA Today. In South Carolina, a law went into effect Jan. 1 requiring a photo of the disabled person be put on the placard that is hung on the rearview mirror. New laws also have gone into effect this year in California and North Carolina.
The South Carolina law says handicap placards can be used only when the person they were issued to is driving the vehicle or is a passenger. Changes are needed, says Maureen Birdsall, 45, a San Francisco-area woman who was so angry about the difficulty she faced trying to park with her severely handicapped grandfather in 2007, that she set up a website for people to report offenders. Handicappedfraud.org, her website, has approximately 10,000 users sending in tips that she sorts and sends to DMV officials. An advocate for the disabled said the new laws are a response to the anger against abusers who tie up scarce parking spaces, not a sign of greater national empathy for the disabled.