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Red Light for D.C. Red Top Parking Meters

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The District government did something unusual today. It temporarily stopped a new handicapped parking program that has confused many drivers and exposed some of them to $250 parking tickets. Tom Sherwood reports.

The D.C. government temporarily stopped a new parking program for people with disability placards or license plates that has confused many drivers and exposed some of them to $250 parking tickets.

Red top meters showing up all around town are intended only for drivers with valid disability placards and plates. The meter gives them twice as much time per hour.

But DDOT’s fast roll out of the program has caused real confusion.

“There’s nobody in this city, or in this area, who would be very happy to get a $250 ticket,” Councilman Jim Graham said. “I mean, that is a whopping ticket.”

“I just think it’s confusion,” Council Chairman Kwame Brown said. “Everyone agrees on one thing -- that it’s very confusing right now and that we need to clear it up and get it fixed.”

“This idea about the red top -- when you’re taking one out of every 10 meters really out of commission -- I don’t know that that’s a good idea,” Councilman Jack Evans said.

So after some extended discussion about the need to assist drivers with disabilities and to warn people of hefty fines, the D.C. Council voted Tuesday to suspend the whole program until the mayor and DDOT can better explain it and educate the public.

There’s no confusion on why the city’s trying to change its disability parking policies, but there’s too much cheating.

“We do have a problem in the District of Columbia,” Councilman Tommy Wells said. “It is not hard to get a handicapped placard either in D.C. or Virginia or Maryland, and people are using it for free parking all through the District.”

The current, often ignored, policy is drivers with disability placards can park at any meter for free for twice the allotted time, but not all day.

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