County Ensures Equality for People with Disabilities at Gas Pumps
Hillsborough County Regulatory Compliance investigators are making sure motorists with disabilities can fill their vehicles with fuel even if they can't pump it themselves.
A County ordinance and a state law require that every gas pump have a blue sticker providing motorists with disabilities a phone number to call for help pumping gas or diesel fuel. The mandate is part of the Americans with Disabilities Act, a federal civil rights law prohibiting discrimination against people with physical or mental disabilities.
The phone number rings inside the adjoining retail business. If two or more employees are on duty, someone must pump gasoline or diesel fuel for customers with disabilities. If only one person is on duty, the employee either must pump the fuel or explain they do not have backup and thus cannot leave their post.
Regulatory Compliance ensures placement of the blue stickers as part of its mission to serve the public. Investigators inspect every fuel pump in the county - there were 524 retail stations at last count - at least once a year. If a business is not in compliance the investigator will return to make sure the problem is corrected. Sometimes the blue sticker is missing, the phone number has faded beyond recognition, or the phone does not ring inside.
Persistent failure to comply with the ADA requirement can result in civil penalties or a misdemeanor prosecution.
Anyone may report a missing or damaged blue sticker by contacting Regulatory Compliance.
Before the ADA was enacted in 1990, motorists with disabilities often had to fend for themselves at fuel pumps and in many other tasks in the course of daily life. The act is intended to guarantee people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else. The Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners recently designated July 26, 2021 as Americans with Disabilities Act 31st Anniversary Awareness Day.