POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Oct 1, 2010
Question: Auwe to the many disabled drivers who drive around with their handicap parking placards hanging from the rearview mirror. This is a traffic hazard as the driver's view is partially blocked by the placard. It is against the law for objects to be attached to the mirror that hinder the view of the driver. Why not remove the "hook" from the placard so it can't be hung from the mirror? Police should add this to their checklist for tagging drivers when they check for cell phone and seat belt use.
Answer: You are correct: A hanging placard or anything that obstructs a driver's view through the windshield is not allowed when the car is being driven (Section 291-54 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes).
However, removing the "hook" is not an option. Federal guidelines and state law specify a hanger-style placard, said Francine Wai, executive director of the state Disability and Communication Access Board.
She pointed to Section 291-53 of the revised statutes regarding how the placard should be used:
"The placard shall be displayed in such a manner that it may be viewed from the front and rear of the vehicle by hanging it from the windshield rearview mirror of a vehicle utilizing a parking space reserved for persons with disabilities. Where there is no rearview mirror, the placard shall be displayed on the dashboard."
Note the law refers to a parked vehicle.
"The placard is designed so that enforcement officers can view the placards and the expiration date from a slight distance without having to go up to the car and peer over the dashboard," Wai explained.
"By law, the placard is supposed to be hung and only placed on the dashboard if it cannot be hung, so it is not an option in all situations."
Question: My wife and I have disabled parking placards and drive separate cars. If I use her car, must I use my own placard?
Answer: The placard is assigned to you, not to your car, so yes, you should display your own placard if you're driving her car and she's not in it.
If you are both riding in either car, it doesn't matter which placard is displayed, said Francine Wai, of the Disability and Communication Access Board.
She said each placard holder has an accompanying ID card, with name, date of birth and placard number, to prove that he/she is not using another person's placard.
Beginning today, all renewals for removable windshield parking placards can be renewed by mail only through the state Disability and Communication Access Board.
Renewals no longer will be handled by county or satellite city offices, the board said. The only applications that will continue to be processed at the county and satellite offices are for initial, temporary or replacement placards.
Placard holders will be mailed a renewal notice, application form, instructions and return envelope to renew by mail 60 days before the expiration date.
New placards will be good for six years.
Those who need a second placard and are the registered owner of a vehicle can request a disabled person's license plate through each county's motor vehicle office.
Contact William Nakamatsu at the Disability and Communication Access Board at 586-8121 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.