Handicapped Parking Abusers Don’t Need a Break
Handicapped parking abuse is a theme in every city and ever town. Cheaters know they’re probably not going to get caught, so they take their chances for the convenience of easy parking – and they are usually rewarded. In Joliet, Illinois, fines for illegally parking in handicapped space are painfully high, but not enforced. Three years ago, the city voted to increase the ticket fees to $500, but signage and enforcement are not up to date. Some signs still read $250, reports theherald-news.com. Anybody who gets a ticket only has to pay the fine listed.
Changing the signs is a process that’s been approached half heartedly because city leaders don’t want to play bad cop.
“It’s not exactly business-friendly to send someone a notice to say they have to change their sign. And what do you do then?” City Manager Jim Hock said. “Give them a ticket and say they have to buy a sign? We’re trying to stay business-friendly.”
There shouldn’t be a “good cop” when it comes to protecting handicapped parking for use by handicapped citizens. There should be about five levels of bad cop and those who take advantage of the system should have a dozen good reasons to feel the risk is not worth the pay off.
I’m not a big fan of the “police crackdown” because I think sporadic enforcement makes the bad guys bolder. But for handicapped parking abuses, I support any kind of sting on any timeline – it’s better than nothing. Abusers need a reason to follow the law. Applying high fines and a creating a high likelihood that they’ll get caught is the only way to deter them.
Joliet officials know excessively high fines are often overturned by judges, so $500 could be the limit, but they’re counting on the high fine to deter some abusers. Otherwise, with a police force that does not have the resources to patrol parking lots, the city is relying on residents to report illegal handicapped parking.
I bet there are people in every city who’d volunteer to look for handicapped parking violations. There are even programs to organize volunteer enforcement.
Accessible Parking and Mobility Solutions is a nonprofit with a program aimed at dealing with handicapped parking scofflaws through an online education program. Violators instead of being fined $500 would be ordered to complete the course. The program includes volunteer spotters, who would report violators.
Read the article here.