Chesterton Tribune



Indiana fines doubled for parking in disabled spots

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LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) - A state law that took effect last week doubles Indiana's fines for motorists who illegally park in parking spaces for the disabled.

But some seniors and people with disabilities or health conditions who rely on the parking spaces question if the higher fines are really enough to keep able-bodied people from using the spots.

The law, one of more than 200 new laws that took effect July 1, boosts the minimum fine for parking in a disabled spot without a permit from $50 to $100.

Lafayette native Linda Juarez told the Journal & Courier she's skeptical of the impact the increased fines will have on people who illegally parking in the spots.

Juarez, who recently received her disabled parking permit because of cardiovascular issues, said the higher fines under the law have likely escaped the notice of most Hoosier drivers. She believes many people didn't know about the previous fine and probably don't know about the increase.

"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 committee.

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.




Posted 7/9/2013