A N A C T
RELATING TO MOTOR AND OTHER VEHICLES -- PARKING FACILITIES AND PRIVILEGES
It is enacted by the General Assembly as follows:
SECTION 1. Section 31-28-7 of the General Laws in Chapter 31-28 entitled "Parking Facilities and Privileges" is hereby amended to read as follows:
31-28-7. Motor vehicle plates for persons with disabilities -- Entitlement -- Designated parking spaces -- Violations -- (a) (1) Persons, as defined in subsection (d), upon application and proof of permanent or long-term disability to the registry of motor vehicles, shall be issued one motor vehicle disability parking privilege placard or in the case of a motorcycle, one motor vehicle sticker, of blue which shall be imprinted with the white international symbol of access, certificate number, the words "Rhode Island Handicap Parking Permit" [on or after July 1, 2000, "Rhode Island Disability Parking Permit"] and shall bear the expiration date upon its face. A placard or motorcycle sticker issued to a person whose disability is temporary shall be substantially similar to that issued to a person with a permanent or long term disability. The temporary placard, however, shall be a red placard with a white international symbol of access, certificate number, the words "Temporary Rhode Island Handicap Parking Permit" [or after July 1, 2000, "Rhode Island Disability Parking Permit"] and shall bear the expiration dates upon its face. Persons issued a placard or motorcycle sticker pursuant to this section shall be entitled to the immunities of sections 31-28-4 and 31-28-6 herein. The placard shall conform to the Uniform Parking System for Disabled Drivers standard issued by the United States Department of Transportation. If an application for a placard or motorcycle sticker is denied, the registry of motor vehicles shall promptly so notify the applicant in writing, stating the specific reason(s) for such denial.
(2) A placard issued pursuant to this section shall be portable and used only when the person is being transported. The placard is to be hung from the rear view mirror so as to be seen through the front or rear windshield of the motor vehicle. A placard may be issued to a person with a disability who does not own a motor vehicle, to be used only when he or she is being transported. A motorcycle sticker issued pursuant to this section shall not be portable and shall be affixed to the rear plate of the motorcycle.
(3) (A) The certificate of entitlement to the placard or motorcycle sticker shall be renewed every three (3) years for individuals with a long-term disability, as defined in subsection (d), and the renewal application shall require a physician's certification that the condition has not changed since the previous approval, and three (3) years for individuals with a permanent disability as defined in subsection (d), in accordance with a schedule prepared by the registry of motor vehicles that uses the last name of an individual to determine the month of renewal. If an application or subsequent renewal is accompanied by a physician's certification that the applicant's condition is a chronic, permanent impairment and such application is approved, then any subsequent renewal shall be authorized upon receipt of an affidavit that his or her condition has not changed since the previous approval.
(B) The certificate of entitlement to the placard or motorcycle sticker shall be covered with plastic or similar material. The applicant shall, upon timely renewal, receive a sticker bearing the expiration date of the certificate of entitlement to be affixed across the expiration date of the disability parking privilege placard or in the case of a motorcycle the applicant shall receive a new motorcycle sticker. The registry of motor vehicles shall establish rules and regulations allowing for the renewal of the certificates of entitlement by mail.
(C) Whenever the registry of motor vehicles proposes to suspend, revoke or fail to renew the certificate of entitlement for noncompliance with the requirements of subsection (a) or for violation of subsection (d) of this section the individual shall first be entitled to a hearing before the registry to contest the proposed action. At the hearing, the registry shall bear the burden of proof that the individual is not entitled to the placard or motorcycle sticker pursuant to this chapter. There shall be no renewal fee charged for the placards or motorcycle sticker. The registry of motor vehicles shall be authorized to issue a temporary disability parking privilege placard or motorcycle sticker immediately upon receipt of an application for individuals with a temporary impairment, as defined in subsection (4). A temporary placard or motorcycle sticker shall be valid for sixty (60) days from the date of issuance. Temporary placards or motorcycle stickers may be renewed for a period of one (1) year or less, as determined by the medical advisory board upon application if the disability persists. The registry of motor vehicles shall subsequently review the applications in accordance with the procedures currently in effect as to applications from persons whose disability is long term. Any issuance which, after subsequent review, shall be found to be inappropriate shall be revoked and notice thereof sent to the applicant.
(4) (A) A person, other than a person with a disability, who for his or her own purposes uses the parking privilege placard, shall be fined one hundred dollars ($100) for each violation. A person issued a special placard who uses the placard after expiration, or who shall allow unauthorized use of the disability parking placard or sticker may be subject to revocation of the use of the placard by the registry, and subject to a fine of one hundred dollars ($100).
(b) Disability parking spaces shall be designated and identified by the posting of signs above ground level incorporating the international symbol of access of white on blue, and the words "Handicapped Parking", "Disability Parking," "Disabled Parking," or "Reserved Parking."
(c) (1) A person, other than a person issued a special placard or motorcycle sticker pursuant to this section, who parks a vehicle in a parking space designated for persons with disabilities, shall be fined seventy-five dollars ($75.00) for a first violation, one hundred fifty dollars ($150) for a second violation and three hundred dollars ($300) for a third or subsequent violation. The vehicle may be subject to towing at the owner's expense. Provided further, however, that it shall not be unlawful for a person to park a vehicle in a space designated for person with disabilities if that person is transporting a person who has been issued a special placard and is properly displaying the placard on the vehicle.
(2) Enforcement of the parking provisions of this section shall be enforced by the local or state authorities on public or private property when the location of the parking spaces is within the purview of the state building code.
(d) Definitions.. - For the purpose of this section
(1) "Disabled" or "disability" means a permanent or long-term impairment which prevents or impedes walking, which shall include but not be limited to: an impairment which prevents walking and requires use of a wheelchair; an impairment which involuntarily causes difficulty or insecurity in walking or climbing stairs with or without the need to use braces, crutches, canes or artificial support; an impairment caused by amputation, arthritis, blindness (including legally blind), or orthopedic condition; or an impairment in respiratory, circulatory, or neurological health which limits the person's walking capability. Persons with disabilities may be capable of working or may be presently working.
(2) "Permanent disability" means an impairment which is non-reversible.
(3) "Long-term disability" means an impairment which is potentially reversible or may improve with appropriate medical treatment. At the time of application and or renewal, the impairment should not be expected to improve prior to the expiration of the certification, to a point where the individual does not meet the provisions of subsection (d)(1) above.
(4) "Temporary impairment" means an impairment which is expected to improve to a point where the individual does not meet the provisions of subsection (d)(1) above, within two (2) years of the application.
(e) The department of administration shall inform each licensed driver of the certificate procedures and parking restrictions of this section and sections 31-28-4 and 31-28-6, and provided, further, that a facsimile of the portable placards and motorcycle stickers issued under this section shall be sent to the enforcing authority of each state, and each enforcing authority shall be informed of the parking restrictions of this section and sections 31-28-4 and 31-28-6. Recipients of disability parking privilege placards shall also receive instructions on their use and the penalties for misuse, when the placard is initially issued.
(f) Any person who makes, manufactures, offers for sale or knowingly uses a counterfeit parking privilege placard shall be fined up to five hundred dollars ($500) and/or forty (40) hours of community service.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect upon passage.