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StarBulletin.com

Law doesn't require disabled to leave car


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POSTED: Thursday, November 05, 2009

QUESTION: I read with interest your column about metered parking for disabled persons (hsblinks.com /16g). My question is, what is the obligation of a handicapped person for whom a reserved parking stall is being used? Does he have to exit the vehicle and physically go into the place of business? I have seen people sitting in their cars while some healthy-looking person has exited the car and does his/her business. Please don't tell me that one can't always tell who is handicapped. I have seen my healthy sister-in-law do that while her handicapped father sat in the car waiting.

ANSWER: The intent of the law giving a disabled person special parking privileges is to ensure that person can park, get out of a vehicle, then go along an accessible path to the closest entrance of a facility.

A person with a disability with a legitimate accessible parking permit, either a placard or license plate, must be in the car or transported in the car whenever the permit is displayed, said Charlotte Townsend, coordinator of the Program and Policy Development Unit, state Disability and Communication Access Board.

However, “;the law and rules are silent as to whether the person with a disability must exit the vehicle,”; she said.

Townsend acknowledged, “;It makes little sense to have a person with a disability occupy an accessible parking space if they have no intent of exiting the vehicle.”;

If the disabled person is not getting out, there is no need for the required access aisle or reserved parking space close to the entrance.

The Disability and Communication Access Board tries to educate the public — including persons with disabilities — on the correct use of these spaces, Townsend said.

An enforcement officer can ask to see identification of the person to whom the permit is issued to determine appropriate use of the parking space. Citations have been issued when a person's ID does not match the permit numbers, Townsend said.

But again, “;there is no enforcement mechanism to ensure that the person with a disability exits the vehicle,”; she said.

Asked if there has been any move to amend the law to account for this situation, Townsend said there have been legislative proposals to expand the eligibility criteria for parking permits.

However, “;I am not aware of any recent attempt to amend the law to ensure that the qualified person with a disability must exit the vehicle,”; she said. Her office has not taken a position on this issue.

QUESTION: I see many vehicles with the tires extending beyond the fenders, but I thought the law required the tires to be within the fenders. Are these legal?

ANSWER: No, they're not.

Such a vehicle, with tires extending beyond the fender well, would fail both a reconstructed vehicle inspection and a periodic vehicle inspection (safety check) and would be subject to a citation by the Honolulu Police Department, said Dennis Kamimura, administrator of the city Motor Vehicle & Licensing Division.

“;According to the inspection procedure for tires, the tread surface of tires mounted on a reconstructed vehicle shall not extend laterally beyond the outboard edge of the fender, the fender well, or other wheel enclosure including flared fender openings when viewed from above,”; he said.

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