Drivers and passengers with disabilities will soon have fewer free parking spots in the District.
The District Department of Transportation is setting aside 400 regular metered spots around the city for motorists with disabilities. It will also end free parking for the disabled at all other meters.
The new meters will be installed later this month in areas where officials notice a high concentration of disabled placards and plates . They'll have red tops and allow drivers to stay for twice as long as regular meters.
Part of the reason behind the change is to discourage freeloaders.
"The end result will be improved accessibility to parking for persons with disabilities in the District of Columbia,” said DDOT Director Terry Bellamy in a release. “Right now, they suffer because the placards and plates that are issued to persons with disabilities are abused by people who just want to park for free.
DDOT says that free parking at metered spaces has become a prime incentive for drivers to use fraudulent handicapped placards or plates.
Drivers with legal handicapped placards or plates will have to pay the normal rate at non-handicap meters. Fines for illegally parking in the spaces will begin after a grace period that ends March 1.