The following opinion is presented on-line for informational use only and does not replace the official version. (Mich Dept of Attorney General Web Site - www.ag.state.mi.us)
STATE OF MICHIGAN
JENNIFER M. GRANHOLM, ATTORNEY GENERAL
HIGHWAYS AND ROADS:
Disabled person parking vehicle in violation of posted time limits.
The Michigan Vehicle Code requires a person to comply with posted signs that restrict the period of time permitted for parking even though the person's parked vehicle displays a valid disabled parking designation.
Opinion No. 7041
February 18, 2000
Honorable Randy Richardville
Lansing, Michigan 48913
You have asked if the Michigan Vehicle Code requires a person to comply with posted signs that restrict the period of time permitted for parking even though the person's parked vehicle displays a valid disabled parking designation.
Your inquiry concerns a Michigan city with a downtown business area of approximately three city blocks. This area contains approximately 85 on-street parking spaces, none of which use parking meters. Four of these spaces are restricted to handicapped parking but do not restrict the amount of time an eligible person may park. In order to facilitate customer access to downtown businesses, the remaining parking spaces are posted with signs limiting parking to one hour. Persons whose vehicles display valid disabled parking license plates or placards have begun parking in these time-limited spaces for longer than the posted one hour limit. You ask, in effect, whether these persons may be ticketed for noncompliance with the posted time limits, despite the disabled plates or placards displayed on their vehicles.
The Michigan Vehicle Code (Code), 1949 PA 300, MCL 257.1 et seq; MSA 9.1801 et seq, regulates streets and highways. Section 675(6) specifically exempts disabled persons from liability for parking violations except for those offenses which are a violation of the Code itself:
A disabled person with a certificate of identification, windshield placard, special registration plates issued under section 803d, a special registration plate issued under section 803f that has a tab for persons with disabilities attached, a certificate of identification or windshield placard from another state, or special registration plates from another state issued for persons with disabilities is entitled to courtesy in the parking of a vehicle. The courtesy shall relieve the disabled person or the person transporting the disabled person from liability for a violation with respect to parking, other than in violation of this act.
Section 674 of the Code lists several specific parking practices that are prohibited by the Code. Among these prohibited practices is parking a vehicle "[i]n violation of an official sign restricting the period of time for or manner of parking." Section 674(1)(u). Thus, parking in excess of the time permitted by a posted sign is a violation of the Code, and is not within the "courtesy" extended to disabled persons by section 675(6) of the Code.
This result is consistent with other related provisions of the Code. For example, section 674(1)(v) of the Code prohibits parking "[i]n a space controlled or regulated by a meter . . . if the allowable time for parking indicated on the meter has expired . . . .," but creates an exception for vehicles that display a special free parking sticker obtained under section 675(8) of the Code. Significantly, these parking stickers are not available to all disabled persons; they are available only to persons with specific disabilities that make it difficult or impossible for the individual to use a parking meter.1 While the Legislature has seen fit to include this limited exception in section 674(1)(v) of the Code for at least some disabled drivers who park at metered spaces, it has included no similar exception in section 674(1)(u) for disabled drivers who park in spaces that are posted with time limitations.
It is my opinion, therefore, that the Michigan Vehicle Code requires a person to comply with posted signs that restrict the period of time permitted for parking even though the person's parked vehicle displays a valid disabled parking designation.
JENNIFER M. GRANHOLM
1 Section 675(7) qualifies a person for a free parking sticker if the person has limited ability to access or operate parking meters or ticket machines due to specified physical disabilities. Section 675(8) also makes exceptions for disabled persons whose vehicles display special license plates or placards issued by another state.