by: David Ham Updated:
Able-bodied drivers using disabled parking placards are costing the city of Seattle at least $1.5 million every year.
"It's really disturbing to see that. It has a specific purpose and that's what those placards should be used for," said Rep. Sam Hunt, (D) 46th Legislative District.
Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill this year that targets cheaters by raising the fines and making some citations misdemeanors.
But it doesn't go into effect until July of next year.
"You know cheaters will be cheaters; it's important that we give tools to law enforcement to be able to enforce the rules that we make and these seem like reasonable change to the rules," said Sylvia Fuerstenberg, who is the executive director of disability advocacy nonprofit, The Arc of King County.
In the meantime, parking enforcement officers across Seattle are trying to catch disabled parking placard cheaters
"It's unfair there's handicapped people who need that parking space that can't walk very far," said Jan Dahl, who uses a disabled placard because she had a total knee replacement.
Other legitimate placard holders suggested we look for cheaters and ask them why they're cheating the system.
So we listened.
We went undercover near Westlake Center, which parking enforcement officers say it's a hotspot for parking cheaters.
We asked a man who appeared to be in his 20s who had a placard if he was disabled.
He said he was.
After checking with the Department of Licensing, we found out his placard belongs to an 80-year-old woman.
We also found a woman who appeared much younger than 60 using placard to park in a spot for free for about six hours.
There was also a couple who used a placard to park. The Department of Licensing said the placard belongs to a minor. We did not see a child in the car.
The most egregious case we saw was near CenturyLink field.
We investigated a tip from a viewer that said construction workers park nearby every day.
When our photographer staked out the spot with an undercover camera, he saw the construction worker and two other workers getting into a card with a permanent disabled parking placard.
DOL told us the placard belongs to a 65-year-old woman.
When we confronted the worker about the placard he wouldn't answer any of our questions about whose placard it is and he sped away.
Dahl saw us as we confronted the man.
"I said right on," Dahl said, "It's about time somebody asked questions."
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