Starting next year, having a disability parking placard in Illinois won’t automatically mean you don’t have to feed the parking meter. Under the new law, only those who can’t physically operate or reach the meters, or walk more than 20 feet, will qualify for meter exempt parking. Once they present a doctor’s note that they meet those requirements, they will be issued a decal that they will differentiate their placard from those which will allow parking at handicap spaces in parking lots.
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Bill Bogdan, disability liaison for the Illinois Secretary of State’s office, hopes that will cut down on people misusing the placards. “Under the old system, all 683,000 people were eligible for meter-exempt parking in Illinois,” Bogdan said. “If you limit the number of people that are eligible for the meter-exempt parking, you’re going to have less abuse.” The new law is already having an effect, according to Bogdan. Since the renewal process began in April, he says about 105,000 placards have been renewed, but fewer than 13,000 of those applying qualified for free parking at meters.