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House of Representatives Washington, D.C. 20515-0910 Dear Congressman Young:
April 29, 1996
This is in response to your letter on behalf of your constituent, Mr. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX, regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). Please excuse our delay in responding. Mr. XXXXXXXXX asks about the ADA's application to Florida's assessment of a fee for issuance of a permit to be displayed in a vehicle to indicate that its occupant has a disability and is entitled to use designated accessible parking spaces. Title II of the ADA requires State and local government entities to make their programs, including their public parking programs, accessible to individuals with disabilities. Therefore, if a State or local government provides parking at a facility, it must provide an appropriate number of accessible parking spaces for individuals with disabilities. In order to ensure that the accessible spaces are available when needed by individuals with disabilities, the spaces must be reserved for the exclusive use of such individuals. According to Mr. XXXXXXXXXXX letter, the State of Florida effects the reservation of accessible parking spaces by requiring users of such parking to display a particular permit. Title II of the ADA prohibits a public entity from imposing a surcharge on an individual with a disability for any measure that is necessary in order to ensure nondiscriminatory treatment required by the ADA. 28 C.F.R. 35.130(f) (enclosed). Because accessible parking is required by the ADA to be reserved for individuals with disabilities and because the issuance of permits is Florida's method of reserving the accessible spaces, Florida may be prohibited from charging a fee for such permits.
However, if Florida provides some alternate means, such as license plates with the international symbol of accessibility (ISA), to allow individuals with disabilities to use accessible spaces and if there is no surcharge for the alternate means, then Florida may charge for its special permits, as long as the coverage of the two means is equivalent (i.e., every individual with a disability has the choice and no one is required to use just one of the options). Florida law apparently authorizes issuance of ISA license plates to individuals who use wheelchairs. Consistent with the ADA, Florida apparently charges such individuals the same fee for such plates as it charges non-disabled individuals for ordinary plates. However, individuals with disabilities that limit their ability to walk significant distances, but who do not use wheelchairs, are apparently not given the option, under Florida law, of applying for ISA license plates. Instead, they are required to obtain a parking permit by paying a $15 fee. For these individuals, for whom there is no surcharge-free option for obtaining access to required accessible parking spaces, the assessment of the extra fee appears to violate title II of the ADA. I hope this information is helpful to you in responding to your constituent. Sincerely,
Deval L. Patrick Assistant Attorney General Civil Rights Division Enclosure