SCHAUMBURG, Ill. (WLS) -- As the holiday season gets into full swing, mall parking lots will be filling up. The Illinois Secretary of State Police is reminding shoppers not to misuse parking reserved for people with disabilities.
"As a person with a disability myself, the accessible parking spaces are vital with people with disabilities," said Bill Bogdan, the disability liaison with the Illinois Secretary of State's Office. "When you're coming out to the mall, grocery store, business, to safely get in and out of their car."
Bogdan said errands are made much more difficult when people abuse those parking spots or block the extra space allotted next to the disabled parking space that allows people with wheelchairs to enter and exit the car.
Police are cracking down on disabled parking misuse and abuse this season, checking plates and placards and writing tickets.
"A parking ticket for unauthorized use of a parking space can carry a minimum of a $250 fine," Bogdan said. "But when you abuse a parking placard or a disability license, you face up to a $600 fine and a 6-month driver's license suspension."
Officers wrote several tickets while monitoring the parking lot at Woodfield Mall on Black Friday.
"The law is pretty steep and the message is clear: If you don't belong there, don't park there," Bogdan said.
Officials said shoppers should think twice before snagging a handicapped spot "for a few minutes" while running errands.
"It is not about how close I park. It is about the space so I can open up my door and get my wheelchair in and out of my car," Bogdan said.