It's an old problem with a newly identified price tag.

The Seattle Auditor says abuse of disabled parking placards is costing the city nearly $1.4 million a year.

The placards are golden. Drivers who display a disabled tag get free parking all day. But there is likely a lot of abuse.

Somewhat human nature. People look for how they can get around the system, said driver Paul Curd, while parking in downtown Seattle on Monday.

It's estimated that one-in-eight downtown Seattle parking spots is occupied by a driver who abuses the placard.

In some parts of downtown, a third of cars parked on a single block have a handicapped tag.

Seattle Police have had trouble with enforcement. Most of the placards they check are valid, but are being used illegally.

The police disabled placard enforcement unit has been cut and the number of tickets issued has fallen dramatically.

Representatives from Seattle and Tacoma asked Olympia for help. A bill to limit placards did not make it through a Senate committee.

In Washington state, nearly 10 percent of the population has a disabled placard. But, it's almost impossible to identify which ones have expired or are being used illegally.

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