"I see a lot of people who will park and leave their car running, and run in
and out of the store to grab something. And then they're long gone. How is
this new law going to stop them?" she asked.
Lafayette Police Chief Pat Flannelly said his department issued just under
40 citations for the parking offenses last year. He said calls reporting
illegally parked vehicles only come in occasionally.
Flannelly said the new law and the increased fines might put a spotlight on
the issue and keep some drivers from thinking they can get away with it.
"Just from my own personal perspective it is very troubling when people park
in these spaces illegally, so hopefully this will get more drivers thinking
about this issue," he said.
State Sen. Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso, authored the measure doubling the
fines. He originally proposed boosting the fine from $50 to $200, but that
proposal was changed after concerns the bill wouldn't advance out of
When the bill passed, Charbonneau said he planned to look into the number of
people who are issued disability permits and whether or not any changes need
to be made to the system.
He added that enforcement of the law will continue be the biggest challenge.
"I believe that it is inexcusable for someone who is perfectly healthy to
park in a space that is clearly designated for handicap parking," he said.
West Lafayette resident Gilbert Powell, a 73-year-old who uses a cane
following hip replacement surgery, said that if he can't find a parking spot
close to a store entrance he sometimes just drives to another store to find
a spot there for disabled motorists.
"I know for other people it's not a big deal, but for me ... being able to
park close to the store is something that might keep me from even getting
out of my car," he said.