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Posted at 7:00 PM ET, 04/21/2010

You can't always see a driver's disability

By washingtonpost.com editors

By Neil Uscier,
Alexandria

In his April 20 letter, “Fairness at the parking meter,” John Sloan wrote of cars that have license plates for those with disabilities, “I’ve seen countless individuals arrive and depart from these vehicles without any obvious incapacities.” He sounds like the person who didn’t read the book and judged it by its cover.

I’m 58, I look healthy, and I’ve had my handicapped placard for the past 15 years because of (1) a debilitating illness, (2) bad neuropathy in my feet and lately down my right leg, and (3) a bad lower back problem due to a car accident in the 1980s. For me to get my placard from Department of Motor Vehicles, my doctor had to agree that it was needed and complete a specified DMV form.

Is Mr. Sloan aware that when a person with a disability is driven by someone else, that person may park the car and legally use the passenger’s placard? Mr. Sloan’s letter mentioned Arlington, which requires all drivers to pay at parking meters (usually only until 6 p.m.). At least there are designated spots for handicapped-use only, even if those spots are metered. The only designated handicapped spots I am aware of in the District are those few around the Mall and the Capitol. Otherwise, it seems to be mostly metered parking.

I have my good days and my bad days, and by looking at me you cannot see my “obvious incapacities.” To Mr. Sloan and everyone else who thinks like him, unless you know all the facts, don’t judge me or anyone else you see strolling down the street because we parked using a handicapped placard.

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By washingtonpost.com editors  | April 21, 2010; 7:00 PM ET
Categories:  D.C., DMV, HotTopic, Virginia, health care, transportation  | Tags:  Department of Motor Vehicles, Disability, License Plates, Parking meter, Virginia Transportation  
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