Connecticut Seal

General Assembly

 

Committee Bill No. 444

January Session, 2009

 

LCO No. 4337

 

*04337SB00444TRA*

Referred to Committee on Transportation

 

Introduced by:

 

(TRA)

 

AN ACT CONCERNING PARKING FOR PERSONS WHO ARE BLIND AND PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES WHICH LIMIT OR IMPAIR THE ABILITY TO WALK.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. Section 14-253a of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective from passage):

(a) For the purposes of this section:

(1) "Special license plate" means a license plate displaying the international symbol of access in a size identical to that of the letters or numerals on the plate and in a color that contrasts with the background color of the plate;

(2) "Removable windshield placard" means a two-sided, hanger-style placard which bears on both of its sides: (A) The international symbol of access in a height of three inches or more centered on such placard and colored white on a blue background; (B) a unique identification number; (C) a date of expiration; and (D) a statement indicating that the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles issued such placard, provided any such placard issued or renewed on or after January 1, 2010, shall contain the signature of the person to whom such placard is issued, the expiration date of such placard and the last five digits of such person's operator's license number, or in the case of a person without an operator's license, the last five digits of an identity card issued by the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles pursuant to section 1-1h;

(3) "Temporary removable windshield placard" means a placard that is the same as a removable windshield placard except that the international symbol of access appears on a red background, provided any such placard issued or renewed on or after January 1, 2009, shall contain the signature of the person to whom such placard is issued, the expiration date of such placard and the last five digits of such person's operator's license number, or in the case of a person without an operator's license, the last five digits of an identity card issued by the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles pursuant to section 1-1h; and

(4) "Person with disabilities" means a person with disabilities which limit or impair the ability to walk, as defined in 23 CFR Part 1235.2.

(b) The Commissioner of Motor Vehicles shall accept applications and renewal applications for special license plates and removable windshield placards from (1) any person who is blind, as defined in section 1-1f; (2) any person with disabilities; [which limit or impair the ability to walk, as defined in 23 CFR Part 1235.2;] (3) any parent or guardian of any [blind] person who is blind or any person with disabilities, [who] if such person is under eighteen years of age at the time of application; [and] (4) any parent or guardian of any person who is blind or any person with disabilities, if such person is unable to request or complete an application; and (5) any organization which meets criteria established by the commissioner and which certifies to the commissioner's satisfaction that the vehicle for which a plate or placard is requested is primarily used to transport [blind] persons who are blind or persons with disabilities. [which limit or impair their ability to walk.] Such organizations shall be exempt from the renewal provisions of this subsection. Any person who was issued a placard prior to January 1, 2010, or who is issued a placard on or after January 1, 2010, shall be required to renew such placard (A) when such person is required to renew such person's operator's license in accordance with the schedule established by the commissioner pursuant to section 14-41, or (B) in the case of a person with an identity card issued by the commissioner, when such person is required to renew such person's identity card in accordance with the expiration date indicated on such card. Such applications and renewal applications shall be on a form prescribed by the commissioner and shall include certification of disability from a licensed physician, physician's assistant or advanced practice registered nurse, licensed in accordance with the provisions of chapter 378, or of blindness from an ophthalmologist or an optometrist. In the case of persons with disabilities, [which limit or impair the ability to walk,] the application shall also include certification from a licensed physician, an advanced practice registered nurse, licensed in accordance with the provisions of chapter 378, or a member of the handicapped driver training unit established pursuant to section 14-11b that the applicant meets the definition of persons with disabilities which limit or impair the ability to walk, as defined in 23 CFR Section 1235.2. On and after January 1, 2010, the certification that the applicant meets the definition of persons with disabilities which limit or impair the ability to walk shall require such physician, nurse or member to specify the criteria in 23 CFR Section 1235.2 applicable to such applicant. The certification of disability shall state that a false statement is subject to the provisions of section 53a-157b. The commissioner, in said commissioner's discretion, may accept the discharge papers of a disabled veteran, as defined in section 14-254, in lieu of such certification. The commissioner may require additional certification at the time of the original application or at any time thereafter. If a person who has been requested to submit additional certification fails to do so within thirty days of the request, or if such additional certification is deemed by the commissioner to be unfavorable to the applicant, the commissioner may refuse to issue or, if already issued, suspend or revoke such special license plate or [removable windshield] placard. The commissioner shall not [be required to] issue more than one [removable windshield] placard per applicant. The fee for the issuance of a temporary removable windshield placard shall be five dollars. Any person whose application has been denied or whose special license plate or [removable windshield] placard has been suspended or revoked shall be afforded an opportunity for a hearing in accordance with the provisions of chapter 54.

(c) Any person who is eligible to obtain a special license plate pursuant to subsection (b) of this section and who has a motor vehicle registered in his name as a passenger vehicle, passenger and commercial vehicle or motorcycle shall be issued, upon approval of the application, number plates in accordance with the provisions of subsection (a) of section 14-21b, which shall bear letters or numerals or any combination thereof followed by the international access symbol. The registration of any motor vehicle for which a special license plate is issued shall expire and be renewed as provided in section 14-22 and be subject to the fee provisions of section 14-49. Any person eligible to obtain a special license plate pursuant to this section who transfers the expired registration of a motor vehicle owned by him and replaces his number plate with a special license plate shall be exempt from payment of any fee for such transfer or replacement. [Any special license plate issued pursuant to this section shall be returned to the commissioner upon the subsequent change of residence to another state or death of the person to whom such special license plate was issued.]

(d) Any [removable windshield] placard issued pursuant to this section shall be displayed by hanging it from the front windshield rearview mirror of the vehicle when utilizing a parking space reserved for persons who are blind and persons with disabilities. If there is no rearview mirror in such vehicle, the placard shall be displayed in clear view on the dashboard of such vehicle.

(e) Vehicles displaying a special license plate or a [removable windshield] placard issued pursuant to this section or by authorities of other states or countries for the purpose of identifying vehicles permitted to utilize parking spaces reserved for persons who are blind and persons with disabilities, [which limit or impair their ability to walk or blind persons,] shall be allowed to park in an area where parking is legally permissible, for an unlimited period of time without penalty, notwithstanding the period of time indicated as lawful by any (1) parking meter, or (2) sign erected and maintained in accordance with the provisions of chapter 249, provided the operator of or a passenger in such motor vehicle is a [blind] person who is blind or a person with disabilities. A [removable windshield] placard shall not be displayed on any motor vehicle when such vehicle is not being operated by or carrying as a passenger [the blind] a person who is blind or a person with disabilities to whom the [removable windshield] placard was issued. Vehicles bearing a special license plate shall not utilize parking spaces reserved for persons who are blind and persons with disabilities when such vehicles are not being operated by or carrying as a passenger [the blind] a person who is blind or a person with disabilities to whom such special license plate was issued.

(f) Only those motor vehicles displaying a plate or placard issued pursuant to this section shall be authorized to park in public or private areas reserved for exclusive use by [blind] persons who are blind or persons with disabilities, except that any ambulance, as defined in section 19a-175, which is transporting a patient may park in such area for a period not to exceed fifteen minutes while assisting such patient. Any motor vehicle parked in violation of the provisions of this subsection for the third or subsequent time shall be subject to being towed from such designated area. Such vehicle shall be impounded until payment of any fines incurred is received. No person, firm or corporation engaged in the business of leasing or renting motor vehicles without drivers in this state may be held liable for any acts of the lessee constituting a violation of the provisions of this subsection.

(g) The State Traffic Commission, on any state highway, or local traffic authority, on any highway or street under its control, shall establish parking spaces in parking areas for twenty or more cars in which parking shall be prohibited to all motor vehicles except vehicles displaying a special license plate or a [removable windshield] placard issued pursuant to this section. Parking spaces in which parking shall be prohibited to all motor vehicles except vehicles displaying such special plate or placard shall be established in private parking areas for two hundred or more cars according to the following schedule:

T1

Total Number

Number of Special

T2

Of Parking Lot Spaces

Parking Spaces Required

T3

0 – 200

Exempt

T4

201 - 1000

1.0%

T5

1001 - 2000

    10 plus 0.8% of spaces

T6

 

over 1000

T7

2001 - 3000

    18 plus 0.6% of spaces

T8

 

over 2000

T9

3001 - 4000

    24 plus 0.4% of spaces

T10

 

over 3000

T11

4001 or more

    28 plus 0.2% of spaces

T12

 

over 4000

All such spaces shall be designated as reserved for exclusive use by [handicapped] persons who are blind and persons with disabilities and identified by the use of signs in accordance with subsection (h) of this section. Such parking spaces shall be adjacent to curb cuts or other unobstructed methods permitting sidewalk access to a [blind] person who is blind or [handicapped] a person with disabilities and shall be fifteen feet wide, including three feet of cross hatch, or be parallel to a sidewalk. The provisions of this subsection shall not apply (1) in the event the State Building Code imposes more stringent requirements as to the size of the private parking area in which special parking spaces are required or as to the number of special parking spaces required or (2) in the event a municipal ordinance imposes more stringent requirements as to the size of existing private parking areas in which special parking spaces are required or as to the number of special parking spaces required.

(h) Parking spaces designated for [the handicapped] persons who are blind and persons with disabilities on or after October 1, 1979, and prior to October 1, 2004, shall be as near as possible to a building entrance or walkway and shall be fifteen feet wide including three feet of cross hatch, or parallel to a sidewalk on a public highway. On and after October 1, 2004, parking spaces for passenger motor vehicles designated for [the handicapped] persons who are blind and persons with disabilities shall be as near as possible to a building entrance or walkway and shall be fifteen feet wide including five feet of cross hatch. On and after October 1, 2004, parking spaces for passenger vans designated for [the handicapped] persons who are blind and persons with disabilities shall be as near as possible to a building entrance or walkway and shall be sixteen feet wide including eight feet of cross hatch. Such spaces shall be designated by above grade signs with white lettering against a blue background and shall bear the words "handicapped parking permit required" and "violators will be fined". Such sign shall also bear the international symbol of access. When such a sign is replaced, repaired or erected it shall indicate the minimum fine for a violation of subsection (f) of this section. Such indicator may be in the form of a notice affixed to such a sign.

(i) Any public parking garage or terminal, as defined in the State Building Code, constructed under a building permit application filed on or after October 1, 1985, and prior to October 1, 2004, shall have nine feet six inches' vertical clearance at a primary entrance and along the route to at least two parking spaces which conform with the requirements of subsection (h) of this section and which have nine feet six inches' vertical clearance unless an exemption has been granted pursuant to the provisions of subsection (b) of section 29-269. Each public parking garage or terminal, as defined in the State Building Code, constructed under a building permit application filed on or after October 1, 2004, shall have eight feet two inches' vertical clearance at a primary entrance and along the route to at least two parking spaces for passenger vans which conform with the requirements of subsection (h) of this section and which have eight feet two inches' vertical clearance unless an exemption has been granted pursuant to the provisions of subsection (b) of section 29-269.

(j) The commissioner may suspend or revoke any plate or placard issued pursuant to this section when, after affording the person to whom such plate or placard was issued an opportunity for a hearing in accordance with chapter 54, the commissioner or his representative determines that such person has used or permitted the use of such plate or placard in a manner which violates the provisions of this section.

(k) Nothing in this section may be construed to allow a [blind] person who is blind or a person with disabilities who is a bona fide resident of the state to park in a public or private area reserved for the exclusive use of [handicapped] persons who are blind and persons with disabilities as provided in this section if such person does not display upon or within his vehicle a plate or placard issued pursuant to this section.

(l) [Violation of] Any person who violates any provision of this section for which a penalty or fine is not otherwise provided shall, for a first violation, be subject to a fine of one hundred fifty dollars, and for a subsequent violation, be subject to a fine of two hundred fifty dollars.

(m) Any placard or special license plate issued pursuant to this section shall be returned to the commissioner upon the subsequent change of residence to another state or death of the person to whom such placard or license plate was issued. Any person who uses a placard or a special license plate issued pursuant to this section after the death of the person to whom such placard or special license plate was issued shall be fined five hundred dollars.

(n) The commissioner shall develop a procedure for the cancellation or renewal of existing placards. The procedure may be implemented over a period of several years. Any renewal of such placards shall require the issuance of a new placard in accordance with the provisions of this section. If the procedure results in a request for the renewal of such placard within six months prior to the renewal date of the holder's operator's license or identity card, the commissioner may extend the renewal requirement until such date.

(o) The commissioner shall establish an online procedure to allow members of the public to file complaints of violations of statutory or regulatory provisions concerning parking for persons who are blind and persons with disabilities. Such procedure shall require all persons filing complaints to disclose their identity.

[(m)] (p) The Commissioner of Motor Vehicles shall adopt regulations in accordance with the provisions of chapter 54, to carry out the provisions of this chapter and to establish a uniform system for the issuance, renewal and regulation of special license plates, removable windshield placards and temporary removable windshield placards. Such plates and placards shall be used only by persons to whom such plates and placards are issued.

Sec. 2. (Effective from passage) The Commissioner of Motor Vehicles, in consultation with members of municipal police departments, shall: (1) Review and evaluate alternative methods of enforcement of statutory provisions concerning parking for persons who are blind and persons with disabilities in areas not normally patrolled by municipal police officers, including private property open to public use; (2) develop recommendations, including proposed legislation, authorizing municipal police departments to employ ancillary staff for such enforcement, such as retired police officers and licensed private security companies; and (3) recommend increased fines and a mandatory court appearance for persons who violate such provisions. The commissioner shall submit such recommendations and proposed legislation, in accordance with the provisions of section 11-4a of the general statutes, to the joint standing committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to the Department of Motor Vehicles, not later than January 15, 2010.

This act shall take effect as follows and shall amend the following sections:

Section 1

from passage

14-253a

Sec. 2

from passage

New section

Statement of Purpose:

To improve procedures for the issuance, return, expiration and renewal of parking permits for persons who are blind and persons with disabilities, and to examine various enforcement methods of statutory provisions concerning parking for such persons.

[Proposed deletions are enclosed in brackets. Proposed additions are indicated by underline, except that when the entire text of a bill or resolution or a section of a bill or resolution is new, it is not underlined.]

Co-Sponsors:

SEN. DEFRONZO, 6th Dist.

S.B. 444