Drivers improperly using disabled parking spaces face big fines
Phoenix Police volunteers are stepping up enforcement of the ordinances governing who can and can't use parking spaces designated for people with disabilities now that the Christmas shopping season is underway.
In Phoenix, tickets range from $288 to $480 for anyone caught using a disabled parking space, or the cross-hatched space next to one, without authorization. Most of the tickets are written by volunteers from the Accessibility Compliance Enforcement program.
According to Detective Walter Olsen, parking in a handicapped parking space requires not only a license plate with the wheelchair logo or a state-issued placard hanging from the inside rear-view mirror, but also that the person to whom that license plate or placard is registered is being transported in that vehicle.
Olsen says if the person to whom the placard was issued isn't in the vehicle when a police officer or volunteer sees someone getting into or out of the vehicle, the placard can be confiscated and a "very expensive" ticket written. He says it's illegal for the placard to be displayed when the owner of the placard isn't being transported – in other words, for friends or family members to use the placard just to get a closer stall when the owner of the placard isn't with them.
Jennifer Longdon, chair of the Mayor's Commission on Disability Issues, is in a wheelchair and says having those stalls available is important to her because it determines whether or not she'll be able to patronize the business that has set aside those stalls. She says some businesses prefer not to confront customers who use the disabled stalls improperly, but in taking that position, those business managers simply are saying they're not interested in the business of people with mobility issues.
Longdon says she also runs into problems when cars or motorcycles park in the cross-hatched area next to a disabled parking space. If she doesn't have room to deploy the ramp she uses to get her wheelchair out of her van, it's the same as not being able to park there at all.