Handicap Parking Violators Caught Breaking Law In Oklahoma

Wednesday, November 16th 2011, 11:03 pm
By: News 9

Since developing a blood clot in his leg, Bill Phelps depends on handicap parking when he goes to the store.

"Majority of the time, they're full," Phelps said.

It's no wonder. The Oklahoma Department of Public Safety issues nearly 90,000 handicap placards a year to people like Diana Foust.

"I have days I can't walk very far," Foust said. "Makes a big difference when you're having a bad day."

But not everyone parking in the marked spots appears to have a disability.

"You see a lot of cars parked in those places without handicap placards posted and you kind of wonder," Foust said.

We got to wondering too. So we took the concerns to DPS.

"The bigger the area, the more accessibility for the abuse," Mike Bailey with DPS.

Bailey oversees the program. He said the biggest placard problem: people using one that belongs to a relative. And Phelps said he's seen it first hand.

"Some lady got into her car and left. Healthy looking lady, had a placard," Bailey said. "They'll think it's no big deal when in fact, it is a big deal."

And the fine is a big deal. Officers can now slap violators with a ticket of up to $500.

Mary Elston walks Oklahoma City parking lots everyday, looking for violators. As a volunteer parking enforcement specialist, she shows no mercy.

In Midwest City, Ken Young puts his own disability aside to catch culprits.

"They're infringing on their rights as an individual, person who has a disability," Young said. "When people get out of their car, run into the store, I'll challenge them when they come out. You are being watched."

Here's some important information for those with a placard:

* Do hang it on your mirror when you park.

* Don't lay it on your dash - officers can't see it.

* Don't leave it hanging it when you drive - obstructs your view.

* Don't use it unless the person the placard is issued to is getting OUT of the car. if that person stays in the car, you are breaking the law by parking in a handicap spot

* Here's a common misconception. having a handicap TAG does not give you the right to park in a handicap spot. You must have a placard to park there.

They're free but your doctor has to sign off for it.

Physical Disability Placard Application