Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles Announces Placard Abuse Prevention Week

The Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) is announcing that Placard Abuse Prevention Week, a yearly public service campaign that seeks to bring attention and awareness to the misuse of disability parking placards is taking place this week from, Monday, May 3, 2021, through Friday, May 7, 2021. The RMV along with the members of the Massachusetts Disability Placard Abuse Task Force developed Placard Abuse Prevention Week to highlight the seriousness of this issue and use educational messaging and outreach to inform members of the public about stringent penalties for usage of fraudulent credentials. 

“The RMV takes intentional misuse of disability placards very seriously and we are pleased to set aside a dedicated week to raise awareness of this issue,” said Acting Registrar of Motor Vehicles Colleen Ogilvie. “Placards should only be used by customers who have a documented medical need for this accommodation and require parking spaces which are in close physical proximity to their destinations.”

The Massachusetts Disability Placard Abuse Task Force meets regularly to share information and best practices on fraud reporting procedures and to discuss ways to increase placard training for partners in law enforcement and members of local commissions on disabilities. Task Force members include representatives from the RMV, Massachusetts Office on Disability, Boston’s Commission for Persons with Disabilities, the Office of the Inspector General, the Massachusetts State Police, Boston Police, local law enforcement, the Boston Transportation Department and the Executive Office of Elder Affairs.

The Commonwealth has taken steps to proactively help prevent the misuse of placards through creating more distinguishable features on the placard that can be more easily spotted by law enforcement, developing strict provisions and penalties surrounding enforcement and administrative requirements, and increasing the documentation requirements and verification practices from medical providers to ensure greater accountability. Massachusetts placards feature the image of the issued placard holder and prominently display bold placard expiration dates for increased enforcement efforts.

The Baker-Polito Administration in 2017 signed into law legislation that imposed criminal penalties for forging, counterfeiting or stealing a placard, prohibited using a deceased individual’s placard and imposed a $500 fine for first-time violators and a $1,000 fine for a second violation, increased the driver’s license suspension for a person wrongfully displaying a placard to 60 days for a first offense and 120 days for a second offense, and imposed a $50 fine for obstructing the number or expiration date of a placard. The law also allows the RMV to request additional information from an applicant to support the medical necessity for a placard.

The most common forms of disability placard abuse are as follows:

● Using someone else's disability placard, or parking in a disabled parking spot with a disability plate and the disabled person not present;

● Using an expired placard;

● Using an old-style indefinite placard, which has not been valid for use since 2008; and

● Making a counterfeit placard, photocopying, or altering an existing one.

Massachusetts citizens are encouraged to submit disability parking abuse complaints online. In addition, constituents are able to mail the Parking Abuse Complaint Form Disability Placards and Plates directly to the RMV. Residents can also call the Inspector General’s Placard Abuse Hotline at (855) 963-2580 to report the abuse. In order to report disability parking abuse, the following information is needed: the vehicle's license plate number, location of the abuse,description of the vehicle, description of the person abusing the disability parking, and the description of activity leading you to believe this is a case of parking abuse.

The RMV continually receives, thoroughly reviews, and processes thousands of placard applications each year. In 2020, the Registry received applications for and issued approximately 101,009 placards