"I am handicapped," writes Jane Shannon of Arlington, "and really get my temper up when I am unable to get a parking space and see cars in spaces reserved for the handicapped without the special license plates or other insignia displayed."
But Jane's temper goes off the charts when she sees "able-bodied people driving a car with handicapped plates using the reserved parking places.
"When my husband drives my car (with handicapped plates), he would not dare pull into a reserved space even if I should be riding with him. Those spaces are for the handicapped driver, not the car with the special plates."
You must be married to a saint, Jane. Not only that, but you've identified an annoying violation of the law that's more and more common around the area, according to police and transportation departments.
Larry Greenberg, deputy assistant director of the Bureau of Motor Vehicle Services at the D.C. Department of Transportation, said the problem isn't of crushing dimensions. But any time you have "basically an honor system," as you do with able-bodied drivers and handicapped spaces, you're going to have trouble, Greenberg said.
Still, let there be no doubt. "The handicapped plate or placard is issued to a person, not a vehicle," Greenberg said. "Family members can't just use the vehicle and abuse the privileged parking."
What if the handicapped family member is riding in the car and an able-bodied relative is driving? That's OK, says Greenberg. But if the handicapped person isn't in the car, it must be parked in the spaces most of the rest of us use.