Police rarely ticket handicapped parking violations

The application process for accessibility-parking permits is quite simple, but Dr. Anne Morse said she doesn't grant permission to just anybody.
handicap.gifTo limit the abuse of handicapped parking, Morse of Internal Medical Associates said she always makes sure her patients are qualified.

She issues the recommendation once the patient meets the Department of Motor Vehicles' guidelines of visual or physical impairment, respiratory problems, cardiac conditions or permanent loss of one or more limbs.

The next step Morse takes is informing them on the DMV's rules. The key rule is, if the person with a disability isn't getting in or out of the vehicle, the car can't be parked in a handicapped stall.

If cars violate the parking laws, the driver will be ticketed and face a $100 fine, Grand Island police Sgt. E.G. Edwards said.

In Hall County, 233 vehicles are registered as handicapped and the county has 41,053 licensed drivers.

Edwards said he'd guess the department issues at the most about 50 tickets a year for violating handicapped parking. The citation generally happens when an officer is on the spot instead of looking for violations, he said.

Hall County sheriff's Chief Deputy Chris Rea said the Sheriff's Department rarely issues such tickets. He said the violations are so few that they don't even track them.

"I think people are pretty considerate and don't want to abuse their permits," he said.

Audrey Howard of Grand Island, who has a handicapped-parking permit, rarely sees a person violating the parking permit laws. She said she doesn't think it's a problem in the area because people respect other's needs.

Sid Cook, executive director of the Center for Independent Living, wishes businesses would create more handicapped-accessible spots. The State of Nebraska Accessibility Guidelines require that a parking lot of 500 spots have eight that meet handicap requirements.

Parking lots that have 26 to 50 spaces have a minimum requirement of two accessible spots. One of those has to be van accessible.

"Just two," Cook said with astonishment and disappointment.

Jeff Burke of Grand Island and Howard both agree with Cook and would like to see more spots in every parking lot.

Burke, who also has a handicapped-parking permit, said he sees quite a few people violating the parking stalls. In many cases, he thinks the drivers don't plan on being in the store long, so they park there.

But violators might end up being in the store for longer than a minute, Burke said.

Dr. Morse said people need to understand that a person may be granted a handicapped-parking permit but not look like a person with a disability.

"I have issued permits to people with multiple sclerosis, lung problems," she said. "People can't see those needs for the permit."
The Independent
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