Tougher penalties for disability parking abusers

June 7, 2012 (CHICAGO)

"I don't have any love in my heart for people who abuse the system. I think that we should deal with them and deal with them in a matter in which they will not be happy," Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White said.

White wants to stop fraud and abuse of the state's disability parking program.

"We also want to make sure that when we provide those individuals who are truly disabled a blue placard we want them to be able to use their placard and we also want them to be able to find a place so they can park their automobile," White said. "We have a red placard which means that you are temporarily disabled and then we have a green placard which means that you are transporting people who are disabled."

This year, new legislation was introduced, making abuse and fraud of placards and disability license plates a class a misdemeanor. Bill Bogden is the disability liaison to the secretary of state's office.

"We're going after those that specific population that likes to use their dead relatives parking placards," Bogden said. "What we're going with this bill if it passes it makes a $2,5000 fine and a drivers license suspension for anyone caught using a dead relative's parking placard or disability license plate and its really going to send that message that abuse will not be tolerated."

A first abuse will lead to a suspended license for six months, up from 30 days.

"I don't like it when somebody when I approach a spot and I see somebody run out , jump out of the car and run away into the store and I'm like you are not disabled, there s nobody in the vehicle that's disabled why are you doing this," Ramon Canellada said.

"The frustrations that I feel are number one, not being able to find a place to park because they're all filled and number two when I see someone get out of a car and they are clearly not disabled," Ginger Lane said.

"I've been people use the placards that I don't think need them but you never know and it's always a challenge for me whether I should say something or not," Lloyd Bachrach said.

"Unfortunately the abuse happens every single day throughout our state and throughout the country. I mean Illinois is not the only state that's grappling with how to combat the abuse of the parking placards," said Bogden.

"We don't want people to be blindsided we want them to know what the laws are we want them to know the do's and don'ts of society," White said.

This new legislation has passed the house and the senate and is now on the governor's desk. If he signs the bill into a law, it will go into effect on January 1, 2013.

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