WATERVILLE – Temporary handicapped placards, good for 21 days, are now available to authorized medical professionals to disburse to patients waiting to receive a disability registration plate or placard.

The temporary placards came about as a result of a bill that state Rep. Thomas R.W. Longstaff, D-Waterville, introduced to the Legislature at the behest of police Chief Joseph Massey.

The bill passed both the House and Senate, and the law went into effect Sept. 28.

People who have undergone medical procedures that require them to park close to a pharmacy or other business to get their medication may get a temporary placard from their physician, physician assistant, nurse practitioner, nurse or other authorized person, Massey said.

He came up with the idea for temporary placards after three people were issued parking tickets in Waterville for parking in designated handicapped parking spots. All recently had medical procedures, he said.

The otherwise law-abiding residents, all elderly, assumed they’d have to go to court and went to Massey to complain, he said.

“Of course, they came down to see me, obviously very upset,” the police chief said.

While an application process existed for such patients to apply for handicapped placards, that process takes a few days and can be daunting for older people and those with medical conditions, Massey said.

He voided the three $50 tickets and sought a way for people in those situations to get a temporary placard immediately.

He spoke with a physician, who supported the idea. He also contacted Longstaff, who contacted the Secretary of State’s Office, and a bill was drafted.

“My contact with other members of the Legislature, both House and Senate, generated almost universally the response, ‘This is a good idea,’” Longstaff said Thursday.

State officials readily supported the effort, he said.

“We had real cooperation on this from the Secretary of State’s Office and the Department of Motor Vehicles from the beginning on helping us to draft it,” he said.

Massey testified before the Transportation Committee on the issue.

The state has issued information about the new protocol to the Maine Medical Association, which is sending it to medical professionals statewide, according to Longstaff and Massey.

Medical professionals need to request the placards from the Secretary of State’s Office, and they may keep them on hand in their offices, Longstaff said.

The yellow placards must be displayed so that they can be seen from the front of vehicles. The permanent handicapped placards are blue and white.

Longstaff said the cost for instituting the temporary placards is minimal and will be easily handled within the current state budget.

Morning Sentinel Staff Writer Amy Calder can be contacted at 861-9247 or at:

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