First Posted: 2/10/2009
Pulling into a handicapped parking space can be a convenient practice for some able-bodied motorists desiring a shorter walk, but that violation could soon come at a price: $221 to be exact.
The Mount Airy Police Department announced Tuesday that it will be stepping up efforts to enforce not only the handicapped-parking law, but the ban against parking in fire lanes in the city.
This crackdown is coming at the urging of local citizens, including handicapped persons, and businesses operators who are concerned about problems with violators, according to Police Chief Roger McCreary.
Weve had some complaints, and we like to address issues the community thinks are important one is handicapped parking, McCreary said Tuesday.
Most of the violations are occurring in public parking lots of businesses and there also are reports of handicapped parking spaces being abused along local streets.
A percentage of each business parking area is designated for the handicapped, according to police. They say it is imperative that these spaces be left available for citizens with a disability or health condition that does not allow them to park a great distance away and be mobile enough to make it to a business.
Handicapped parking spaces should be clearly marked with a sign indicating that designation and the maximum fine possible if a violator is charged and convicted.
Its always bothered me personally, the police chief of incidents in which people who are not disabled use handicapped spaces. It seems offensive to me.
Since too many drivers arent recognizing the need to reserve those spaces for people requiring easier access, officers have no choice but to begin reaching for their ticket books.
But similar to other recent campaigns, the police chief wants to provide an advance warning to motorists so they can correct their behavior on their own. He hopes to save people some money by letting them know ahead of time.
A person convicted of illegally parking in a handicapped space can be fined up to $100, which when coupled with court costs of $121 could result in a maximum charge of $221.
The N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles issues placards for those with permanent or temporary disabilities to display on their vehicles. Special license plates are available to handicapped or visually impaired individuals for the regular license fee.
Fire Lane Violations
While the law against parking in fire lanes hasnt been strongly enforced in recent years, thats about to change, the police chief indicated. Were going to pay close attention to it, McCreary said.
Fire lanes are located along the fronts and possibly around other parts of businesses, usually marked either with signs or paint. Officials say its vital that these areas remain clear of unauthorized vehicles to allow sufficient room for fire trucks and other emergency units in case they are needed.
Police say the public should be aware that parking in a fire lane is illegal even if someone is sitting inside a vehicle or it is left running. Someone convicted of a violation faces a maximum fine of $25, plus the $121 in court costs, for a maximum of $146.
Police say they want to heighten public awareness to increase compliance with the laws to better accommodate the handicapped and enhance safety by keeping fire lanes clear.
Contact Tom Joyce at [email protected] or at 719-1924.