Accessible parking spaces are made available to assist not only those who have mobility issues and use a wheelchair, walker or cane for assistance, but are also provided for those who are limited by various other conditions that affect the circulatory system, respiratory system and those with cardiovascular issues among others.
Oftentimes, taking a parking spot from someone in need means that person has to return home and is not able to keep a doctor’s appointment, shop for groceries or other necessities. To take a disability parking space from someone who is truly in need of it is not only inconsiderate, it’s illegal.
New laws in Illinois will ensure more fairness and fight fraud across Illinois. The initial fine for unauthorized use of a disability plate or placard is now $600, up from $500. Fines for creating or possessing fraudulent disability plates or using a genuine disability placard when the authorized user is not in the vehicle has doubled from $500 to now $1000. The new laws also impose an initial fee of $1000 on a physician or other healthcare provider who knowingly falsifies a certification for a person who does not have a disability that entitles him or her to a disability plate or placard.
Starting in 2014, those who legally use an accessible parking space, will need to pay when paid parking is required. Currently, those who use accessible spaces do not pay a fee or meter for that spot. The Secretary of State will, in 2014, issue a new meter-exempt decal to people with disabilities who are unable to access or operate a parking meter.
The State has also established tougher penalties for the use of a deceased person’s parking placard. The new law makes this offense a Class A misdemeanor with a minimum fine of $2,500 and mandatory revocation of the offender’s driving privileges. It also raises the fine for a second conviction of misuse of a disability parking placard from $750 to $1,000 and allows the Secretary of State to suspend or revoke driving privileges.
Secretary of State Jesse White recently said, “It is against all the laws of human decency for an able-bodied person to deprive a person with a disability of using a disability parking spot.”