Handicap Parking Abusers, Beware

State launches crackdown on scofflaws heading into holiday season

State officials on Wednesday launched a crackdown aimed at keeping accessible parking spaces clear for the drivers who need them.

Abuse of accessible parking is a growing problem, especially going into the holiday season, and Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White his police force will be out scouring parking lots for scofflaws.

"There is no reason for any individual to take advantage of a place that has been set aside for someone who is truly disabled," he said.

Using a handicap spot without a placard or plate can bring a fine as steep as $350. Using someone else's placard or plate brings a $500 fine.

A new law takes effect Jan. 1, 2011 that strengthens penalties to property owners who fail to keep their accessible parking spaces and access aisles clear after being notified by local police or code officials about an obstruction in their accessible parking spaces, according to the release.  The legislation was an initiative of the Greater Illinois Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

In Illinois, there are more than 443,000 placards and approximately 84,000 disability license plates.

Anyone who notices a handicap parking abuser can call White's office at 217-785-0309. Notate the vehicle's placard and license plate numbers, as well as the vehicle's location. Reports can also be filed online at CyberDriveIllinois.com.

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