D.C. red top handicapped meter enforcement pushed to May 1

Parking illegaly at red top meters carries a $250 fine. (Photo: DDOT)

The District Department of Transportation is delaying enforcement on the city's red top handicapped parking meters until May 1.

The agency says it decided to once again delay the plan while a public outreach campaign continues and to ensure that all 1,500 red top meters are installed and meet ADA requirements. DDOT is also working to make sure there are no sign and meter conflicts where they plan to install the remainder of the meters.

DDOT had originally planned to begin enforcing the red top meters on March 1. Between now and April 30, though, the only cars that will be ticketed for parking illegally at these meters are ones that don't display a valid disability placard.

They will not be forced to pay for parking until May 1. The fine for parking illegally at a handicapped meter is $250.

The red top meters were designed by Mayor Grey and the District Department of Transportation to make disabled parking fair, eliminating fraud while reserving spots for drivers with trouble getting around.

But one disabled driver is applauding the decision to temporarily pause the program.

A small victory for Rodney Smith and other disabled drivers whose outrage over new metered parking in D.C. led to a suspension in the program.

“I think what the Department of Transportation did was wrong,” Smith says.

Getting around hasn't been easy for Smith since a spinal cord injury 15 years ago. Earlier this month, Smith was walking outside several times a day to feed the meters.

“That impact was really a hardship on disabled peoples especially if you've got disabled people who are business owners in D.C.,” he says.

Until d-dot installed 1,500 of the Red Top meters, disabled drivers could park anywhere for free with a permit.

During the program's suspension, vehicles parked at a red top meter must have a permit. Drivers with a valid disability placard or tags may park at all meters without paying.

Councilmember Muriel Bowser co-authored emergency legislation Tuesday to suspend implementation of the program 90 days. It requires a public hearing and a full report from the mayor on the red top meter program.

“It represented a big policy shift that really changed how we handled handicapped parking in the District of Columbia that didn't really have a public debate,” Bowser says.

Bowser says the program is well-intentioned - designed to end the free parking incentive that's led to the use of fraudulent permits.