Police patrol for drivers illegally parking in handicapped-accessible spots across Illinois

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A crackdown is underway across Illinois to stop drivers from illegally parking in spots reserved for people with disabilities.

Drivers misusing handicapped-accessible parking placards is a problem all year long, but authorities said it actually picks up around the holidays.

Illinois Secretary of State Police are patrolling busy areas, looking for drivers who are illegally using the parking placards and checking that the cardholder is present with the car.

RELATED: 'If you don't belong here, don't park here': Police crack down on accessible parking misuse

Investigator Glenn Florkow is one of dozens of Secretary of State Police working overtime to ensure drivers aren't taking a parking spot that's set aside for someone who really needs it.

"It is just a matter of them not wanting to walk the extra distance or they could not find regular parking for themselves," Florkow said.

Drivers caught stealing handicapped-accessible parking spots will face hefty fines and possible license suspension.

"If they are using somebody else's placard, that is a $600 fine," Florkow said. "If they are using a dead person's placard, that is a $2,500 fine."

If a driver is using a deceased person's placard, they could be charged with a misdemeanor.

Each placard is run through the Secretary of State's system, then double checked with the person's driver's license.

Robert Altman was stopped by the Secretary of State Police to have his handicapped-accessible parking pass checked.

"I had a total knee replacement last year," Altman said.

The issue is putting many drivers like Altman at a disadvantage.

"I do not think it is right. It is a medical issue," Altman said. "Heartless people, I guess."

The Secretary of State Police said they plan to hand out dozens of tickets throughout the holiday season, reminding drivers to do what is right.
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