Handicapped parking


Jeff Cook

SPRINGFIELD — Some holiday shoppers at Illinois malls may have returned to their cars to find a “gift” from the state — a pricey ticket for cars illegally parked in a space designated for those with disabilities.

Secretary of State Police issued 166 citations, totaling $71,250 in fines, during a statewide crackdown on vehicles illegally parked in disability parking spaces at malls, Secretary of State Jesse White announced Friday.

The crackdown started on Black Friday, Nov. 23, and ran through the end of December. Enforccement efforts focused at malls and stores in 66 communities, including Moline and Silvis.

As part of the crackdown, 66 people were issued tickets for improper use of a disability parking space or parking in a disability space without a placard or license plate, 92 people were cited with misusing a placard or using someone else’s placard, and nine people were cited with using a fraudulent placard.

Of a total of 8,336 disability parking placards checked, 103 placards were seized.

Secretary of State spokeswoman Elizabeth Kaufman said in some areas, placards were checked but no tickets were issued. For example, in the Forsyth area, 79 placards were checked but no tickets were issued. By contrast, in Carbondale, 551 placards were checked and 18 tickets were issued.

White said he was pleased with the results.

“Our mission is not to give tickets, but to ensure the disability parking spaces are available to those who need them,” White said. “Remember — if you don’t belong there — don’t park there.”

Even though the holiday enforcement crackdown is over, the fine for misusing disability parking has increased under a new Illinois law that took effect Jan. 1.