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It’s costly, wrong to park in spaces for the disabled

Published: Friday, Dec. 7, 2012 4:59 a.m. CDT

(MCT) — The holidays didn’t get off to a great start for about 60 Illinois residents who were fined as the result of a statewide crackdown by Secretary of State police.

Too bad, so sad. When you misuse a parking space or placards set aside for the disabled, you deserve the consequences.

Only the most selfish and inconsiderate of people would hog a disability parking space or misuse a dash card — and for what? To make it easier to go Christmas shopping? Find a last-minute space for a 7 p.m. movie?

Marked spaces in parking lots, designated license plates and dashboard placards are not a free pass for the able-bodied to park closer to their destination — even when it’s raining, snowing or it’s dark outside.

They are for people who cannot walk, who use oxygen, have a heart problem or have a debilitating, chronic disease such as  multiple sclerosis.

And before you say, “Well, that’s me,” be forewarned the state requires a physician’s signature to issue a disability license plate or placard.

Truth be told, parking farther from the door actually would be good for most of us. It’s an easy way to exercise — most of us could use a little more walking, even if it’s a short distance.

Not convinced? Well, squirrel away your Christmas money and a couple bus tokens in case you get caught: Fines for misuse can reach $500 and can include a driver’s license suspension for a first offense.

You can report disability parking space abuse at (217) 785-0309 or www.cyberdriveillinois.com. Make sure you have the placard and license plate numbers, and location of the vehicle.

There are 653,279 placards and about 81,422 disability license plates in Illinois. Last year’s enforcement program resulted in 187 citations.

As you rush through this holiday season, take a moment before you make a bad decision that will affect someone truly in need — and possibly leave you with less cash for the next shopping trip.

©2012 The Pantagraph (Bloomington, Ill.) Distributed by MCT Information Services

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