Drivers might need more than a special state-issued license plate to park in Charleston's commercial loading zones if City Council approves a new rule Tuesday.
Property-carrying license plates, or P-tags, are intended for trucks and other commercial vehicles that use loading zones for deliveries.
But state law doesn't require the Department of Motor Vehicles to verify that applicants have a legitimate business-related reason for the storefront parking, so the tags are notoriously easy for drivers to acquire and abuse.
The city's proposal aims to clear up whether drivers are actually using the parking privilege for a commercial reason. Drivers already need P-tags to use loading zones, but the new rule would also require vehicles to have commercial markings such as a company logo. Violators would face a $45 parking ticket.
Many commercial vehicles such as food delivery trucks already have those markings. Other self-employed professionals with P-tags, such as musicians or florists, might be required to get magnetic decals for their cars, according to city spokesman Jack O'Toole.
The Post and Courier reported last month that unmarked cars with P-tags often prevent commercial vehicles from using the loading areas, a problem that has only gotten worse in Charleston recently.