New penalties took effect this week for drivers who use fake or fraudulent disability placards in Illinois.
Following a December crackdown, the City of Chicago and Secretary of State Police on Tuesday ticketed 10 people for misusing the placards or disability license plates to park for free downtown, police officials said.
"I believe it's a violation of laws of all human decency for you to be able-bodied [and] take advantage of a program that's been set aside for those who are truly disabled," said Secretary of State Jesse White.
Scofflaws now face a $500 fine and 30-day license suspension for the first offense, a $750 fine and one-year license suspension for the second offense and a $1,000 fine and revoked license for the third.
Officers began checking placards and license plates late last year to verify the placards actually belong to the driver. In some cases, they were fabricated or photocopied to mimic the real thing. In other cases drivers used somebody else's placard.
Joe Russo of the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities said it cheats disabled residents who work and live downtown.
"Every day people with disabilities who live and work in the city of Chicago rely on the availability of accessible parking in order to work, to live their lives, take care of their children," Russo said Tuesday. "When people who use fraudulent placards or fake placards or placards that don't belong to them, taking these spots impacts people with disabilities in a very negative way."