New DOT law for handicap parking permits - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

New DOT law for handicap parking permits

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(KWWL) -

The Iowa DOT is cracking down on people who are misusing handicapped parking. A new law taking effect in 2017 will affect those who are applying for a permanent disability placard. 

Currently in Iowa, permanent disability placards do not expire. In some cases, the non-existent expiration date makes it easy for others who are not disabled to use the placard. 

Come January 1st, those who are applying for a permanent disability placard will have to renew every five years. This new law will not affect those who currently have a permanent disability placard. 

The placard will still be issued at no cost for those with a disability. The Iowa DOT hopes this will help curb the problem and prevent people from abusing the system.

Miss Wheelchair Iowa 2013 Tasha Degroote, who was born with Spina Bifida, uses a permanent disability placard

 "That caused me to be paralyzed from the waist down, so I have no feeling from waist down," said Degroote. 

Degroote says she's noticed people abusing the system. 

"There are some people who i don't really feel like need to be using them," said Degroote. "But, at the same time it's hard to tell if they should really be using them or if they shouldn't be using them. Because there's a lot of people out there who have a disability, that's hidden because it's not physical."

Interim Director for the Iowa DOT Mark Lowe says that is one obstacle they face in enforcing the law.

"It's a very difficult enforcement scenario,' said Lowe. "It's one of those things where I think there's a lot more anecdotal evidence of people seeing people abuse persons with disability placards, handicap parking places, or there's someone that they know about that's done that."

The current placard does not have an expiration date, but Lowe says come the new year, those applying for one will see an expiration date listed. 

"The placards are assigned by person, they are tracked by number, there is a validity in our system," said Lowe. "We made that searchable for law enforcement, so as they see a placard hanging in the window, if there's any question if the person should be using it, or if it's valid, they can run that. It's through the same database and network to check license plates. They can find out if it's a valid placard and who it's assigned to."

The DOT says this new law will ensure that those who truly need it, will have access. 

"If you don't have a doctor's excuse that requires you to use that temporary or permanent handicap sticker then don't use it,' said Degroote. "Would you like it if I chopped your leg off and made you sit in a chair and made you be in my shoes? That's how I look at it."

The Iowa DOT says for those who have a deceased family member who used a handicapped permit, can bring the permit to the DMV and and they'll take that permit out of the system. 

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