NBC10 Boston Responds

Ticketed, then suspended: Man struggles to get answers about his handicap placard

Mark Jette reached out to NBC10 Boston Responds when he failed to get answers from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation or the Registry of Motor Vehicles

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A Boston man got a ticket for the misuse of his handicapped placard, but he couldn’t easily determine what he did wrong and eventually his license was suspended.  That’s when he reached out to NBC10 Boston Responds for help getting some answers.

Mark Jette got a ticket in the mail at his South Boston home in February.  The offense on the citation was 90-2-F, or misuse of his handicapped placard.



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“I didn't know what that was,” said Jette.  “ I wanted to make sure if I was guilty of something, I would pay my fine and that be the extent of it.  If I wasn't, I wanted a chance to appeal it.  That said, I also didn't want to get reoccurring violations because I didn't know what the violation was.”

He says the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles couldn’t tell him what exactly he did wrong,  so, he says he called the officer who wrote the citation.

“I left eight messages and not one answer,” he says.

An officer at his local precinct got back to him in early March, telling him he was cited because the expiration date at the top of his handicapped placard wasn’t visible.   

Jette showed us the problem. When he hangs it from the rearview mirror in his car, as required by the RMV, the date is obscured because of the thick mirror column in his vehicle.

“So there is no way, no matter how you hang this,” says Jette, affixing the placard to his mirror column.  “If I do it either way, this blocks the top of the ticket. There is no way to not block it.”

Jette says he would have appealed the ticket once he knew what it was for when he received it. In Massachusetts you have  20 days from the day of the violation to file an appeal.  But Jette says he ran out of time, due in part, to a delay in the ticket being issued.

On his citation, the violation date is listed as January 25, but the ticket wasn’t written until February 3.  The envelope is postmarked February 6 and he says it arrived in the mail on the 10, leaving him only a couple of days to deal with it. Not knowing what the violation was for, he didn’t file an immediate appeal, which led to his license being suspended for 60 days.

Jette says he made numerous calls to the Department of Transportation and RMV to find out two things:  Why he didn’t receive the ticket in a timely manner and how he could legally display his placard if his car mirror obscures the expiration date and he is not legally allowed to modify it.  Mark says the DOT mailed him a page of “Do’s and Dont’s of Disabled Parking” three times,  which only says the placard should be hung from the rearview mirror.

“I ended up speaking with probably over 100 people over the course of 15 different departments and agencies,” says Jette.  But he says he didn’t get any answers.

Mark did have an RMV hardship license hearing, hoping to have his license reinstated, but was denied.  He contacted NBC10 Boston Responds hoping we could help.

We contacted the DOT about the handicapped placard.  They told us:

"The placard can be displayed in the vehicle wherever it is visible from outside the vehicle, but law enforcement typically looks for the placard hanging in the windshield – usually from the mirror. The Registry recommends hanging the placard in an alternate sleeve, or another string or hook around the mirror so the placard hangs lower, so it is visible."

That's information Jette says he couldn’t get on his own.

As for the ticket delay, a Boston police spokesperson tells me there can be delays involving handicapped placard citations because they are not always immediately written.

But the DOT told us:

"Per the RMV's records,  this doesn’t appear to be an issue with the deadline running from receipt date or issue date,  as the customer waited over two months from issuance and six weeks from receipt to address this citation. The customer requested a late hearing for the citation, but despite receiving RMV suspension notices and speaking with the RMV in the interim,  the customer failed to schedule the required RMV hearing until March 27th.  The customer was already in suspension when he scheduled the RMV hearing and his request for a late hearing on the citation was denied. “

Jette says he was on the phone daily with the RMV and DOT trying to get help and guidance with the situation.

“For me, this whole experience has felt really intrusive and it feels like an attack,” says Jette.  “It feels like I've been denied a voice,  I have no rights. Just pay it and admit your guilt.  We know you’re not guilty but tough, pay it and like it and go without your license and move on in life.”

We asked the DOT if they find it problematic that tickets involving handicapped placards can be delayed, giving drivers less than the 20-day window extended to others to file an appeal, and whether they would consider changing policy to have the appeal window begin on the day the citation is written.

They did not respond to those questions.

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