Parking cheats

Handicapping the Odds

Most disabled-parking blue tabs aren’t bogus, whatever the Times says.

By Eric Scigliano July 15, 2009

To read the front-page article in Tuesday’s Seattle Times you’d think most drivers using blue tags to park in so-called “handicapped zones” are shameless cheaters. To quote: “A city sampling in 2004 showed that more than 75 percent of disabled-parking placards examined were being used improperly.”

Not quite. According to Seattle Police Detective Jeff Kappel, over a year’s course SPD officers inquired into about 500 placards that looked suspicious—i.e., out of date, issued to now-deceased drivers, reported lost—and issued citations in 85-plus percent of those cases. But they examined many more to find those 500.

The Times may have been confused by a vaguely worded press release from the mayor’s office, applauding an ordinance the City Council passed Monday. It will let officers write parking tickets (for $250!) whenever they spot bogus permits, instead of tracking down the drivers and issuing traffic citations. So don’t presume that those with blue tags hanging off their mirrors are cheating, unless they have little white envelopes under their windshield wipers

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