SPRINGFIELD | Some holiday shoppers at Illinois malls may have returned to their cars to find a "gift" from the state – a pricey ticket for cars illegally parked in a space designated for those with disabilities.
Secretary of State Police issued 166 citations, totaling $71,250 in fines, during a statewide crackdown on vehicles illegally parked in disability parking spaces at local malls, Secretary of State Jesse White announced Friday.
The crackdown started on Black Friday, Nov. 23, and ran to the end of December. Enforcement efforts focused at malls and stores in 66 communities, including Chicago and surrounding suburbs.
As part of the crackdown, 66 people were issued tickets for improper use of a disability parking space or parking in a disability space without a placard or license plate, 92 people were cited with misusing a placard or using someone else's placard, and nine people were cited with using a fraudulent placard.
Of a total of 8,336 disability parking placards checked, 103 placards were confiscated.
Secretary of State spokeswoman Elizabeth Kaufman said in some areas placards were checked but no tickets were issued. For example, in Forsyth area, 79 placards were checked but no tickets were issued. By contrast, in Carbondale, 551 placards were checked and 18 tickets were issued.
White said he was pleased with the results of the holiday crackdown.
“Our mission is not to give tickets but to ensure the disability parking spaces are available to those who need them,” White said. “Remember – if you don’t belong there – don’t park there.”
Even though the holiday enforcement crackdown is over, the fine for misuing disability parking has increased under a new Illinois law that took effect Jan. 1.
The new law increases the penalties for using the placard or disability license plates of a person now deceased. Such use now carries a minimum one-year driver’s license revocation and a $2,500 fine.
Also, the new law boosts penalties for those who generally misuse a disability license plate or placard. Kaufman said that for a first offense, a person now faces a six-month license suspension and a $500 fine, and for a second offense, a one-year suspension and a $1,000 fine. Under the new law, on a third offense, someone's license may be revoked for a minimum of one year.
The fine for parking in an accessible parking space without a parking placard or disability license plates can be a minimum of $250 and a maximum of $350.
This new law is Public Act 97-844.