Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

November 28, 2012

Effort to curb illegal disability parking underway

Jackson Adams
Effingham Daily News

EFFINGHAM — A new effort by the secretary of state’s office is focusing on keeping drivers out of disability parking spots.

    The annual effort is an attempt to crack down on drivers who illegally use disability parking spots. The enforcement, which kicked off on Friday, will continue through the end of December.

    “The abuse of these spaces causes lots of problems for drivers with disabilities,” said Elizabeth Kaufman, a spokesman for the secretary of state’s office. “Either they have to park far away or in a spot that makes it difficult for them to exit or enter their vehicle or for some people, if the disability spots are not available, they have to leave and hope to come back later when those spots are available.”

    In the first weekend alone, statewide law enforcement officials issued nearly 60 citations, with 29 people receiving citations for improper use of a disability parking space or parking in the space without a placard or a license and 29 others were cited for misuse of a disability placard or using someone else’s placard. Twenty-nine placards were also confiscated.

    Fines can range to a maximum of $500 for using a placard or disability license plates without the authorized holder or plates present to $350 for parking in the space without a placard.

    “This is our seventh year conducting these,” Kaufman said. “The goal is not to give tickets. It’s to make sure those spaces are available for those who need them.”

    The Effingham Police Department was made aware of the program and Police Chief Mike Schutzbach said the agency will continue to look for individuals who abuse disability parking spaces, as they do all year.

    “Our officers are obviously observant of the parking situations in local shopping areas,” he said. “We do request that individuals let us know if they see someone illegally using the space.”

    Schutzbach said he doesn’t believe illegal use of disability parking spaces is a big concern for the city but it is possible that more people could be using the space as the holiday shopping season begins.

    “Obviously, at this time of year, more people are out,” he said. “But we’re looking to see if people are abusing those spaces year round.”

    Jackson Adams can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 131, or jackson.adams@effinghamdailynews.com.