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Thread: Handicapped parking law confusing

  1. #1
    Senior Member Max's Avatar
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    Handicapped parking law confusing

    Handicapped parking law confusing
    Disabled legislator vows to offer bill to bring clarity
    By SHELLEY HILL and DEVON MARROW
    Staff Writers


    todd bennett - the state

    David Dowling, who uses a wheelchair, says access to handicapped parking is an important part of his life.


    Some local law enforcement agencies say South Carolina law does not allow them to ticket someone who isn't disabled but uses someone else's permit to park in a handicapped spot.

    But other law enforcement agencies say they ticket people for doing that, arguing the law's intent is for the placards to be used only when a disabled person is in the car.

    Advocates for the disabled and some legislators say the confusion illustrates that the law needs to be clarified and strengthened so it can be better enforced.

    One legislator who is disabled said he plans to introduce legislation that would ensure that people who aren't disabled can't park in handicapped parking spaces using someone else's permit.

    "I want to make sure these people are brought to justice and make sure they are fined properly if they are not physically disabled," said Rep. Joe Brown, D-Richland, who lost a leg 10 years ago after he fell from a tree and shattered his ankle.

    Earlier this week, a government watchdog group and advocates for the disabled criticized Columbia City Council member E. W. Cromartie after he used a parking permit he said was issued to his mother to park in a handicapped parking space while he attended a meeting.

    But officials with the Department of Public Safety say what Cromartie did isn't illegal under state law.

    South Carolina law says it is illegal to park a car in a handicapped parking space without displaying a permit. But Public Safety spokesman Sid Gaulden said the law doesn't address whether the person to whom the permit has been issued must be in the car.

    State law does say it is illegal for someone who is not handicapped, or who is not transporting a handicapped person, to use the permit to park at a metered parking space without paying the meter. But, Gaulden said the law doesn't address other handicapped parking spaces.

    Cromartie was out of town and not available Thursday for comment on the department's interpretation of the law. On Monday, he apologized for parking in the space. He also asked city staff on Wednesday for an update on plans to make city facilities more accessible to handicapped people, which has been an ongoing issue.

    Advocates for disabled people said the use of a handicapped parking space by a person with a permit but who doesn't have a disability circumvents the intent of the statute.

    "If that's the way they are interpreting it, that means there really isn't a law other than downtown," where there are parking meters, said Kermit Short, executive director of the S.C. Spinal Cord Injury Association.

    Lt. Joseph Pellicci, spokesman for the Richland County Sheriff's Department, said officers give tickets to people who are parked in handicapped spaces without a permit, but don't ticket people who have a permit that does not belong to them.

    Pellicci said the department doesn't have the manpower to "sit in a parking lot and wait and see" who gets into a properly parked car with a handicapped placard.

    "That's unrealistic," he said.

    Columbia's interim city manager, Charles Austin, and acting police chief Maj. James Swisher could not be reached.

    But two local law enforcement agencies say they ticket people who aren't disabled if they park in handicapped parking spaces by using someone else's permit.

    "You either need to be handicapped or you need to be transporting someone who is handicapped. Period," said John Allard, spokesman for the Lexington County Sheriff's Department.

    In 2002, Lexington County sheriff's deputies issued 47 tickets to people who illegally parked in handicapped spaces. So far this year, deputies have issued 28 tickets.

    Allard could not say what the circumstances of those violations were.

    The misdemeanor violation carries a fine of $100 to $200 or 30 days in jail for each offense.

    Cayce Public Safety Director Charley McNair said police officers in that Lexington County city have issued tickets to people who parked in handicapped spaces by using someone else's permit. But he acknowledged enforcement is difficult.

    "One of the major problems is there is not an easy way to find out who that placard is registered to," McNair said.

    He said he tells officers to use good judgment.

    "If someone jumps out the car and skips across the pavement, then we'll look at it a lot closer than if someone gets out without (a permit) and is using a cane."

    McNair said the law should be improved to make it more easily enforceable. He said a simple solution would be to have the person's name on the permit.

    Short, of the Spinal Cord Injury Association, said it is often difficult for handicapped people to find parking spaces because of people abusing the placard.

    "One member of the family gets it, and it is passed on to other members of the family, and they are able to use it without the person with the disability (being) in the car," Short said.

    Despite potential difficulties with enforcement, advocates say they want to see the law clarified.

    "Having the law on the books that makes it clear that that's a violation is still an important thing to protect the availability of these spaces," said Lesly Bowers, managing attorney for Protection and Advocacy for People with Disabilities.

    David Dowling, who has used a wheelchair for the past two years after suffering a stroke, found a handicapped parking space at the Wal-Mart on U.S. 378 earlier this week.

    Dowling, 56, said he gets tired of people being indifferent to the plight of the handicapped. People who aren't disabled should not "violate something that is important to me," he said.

    "I don't see anybody writing any tickets. I can deal with human nature, but can't deal with stupidity. Stupidity is knowing that something is wrong and doing it anyway."

    Reach Hill at (803) 771-8462 or sehill@thestate.com. Reach Marrow at (803) 771-8405 or dmarrow@thestate.com.


    http://www.thestate.com/mld/thestate...al/6330275.htm

  2. #2
    I've seen that so many times. Also, cars parking in the van space...people need to take some sort of education class when they apply for a handicap placard. I've actually had people park on the access part for the ramp/lift of the van space, making us unable to lower the lift without backing out and blocking traffic. They need to understand that by doing this, they could possibly strand someone who drives a modified vehicle, making them unable to get into their vehicle.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Max's Avatar
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    Handicapped-spot law has loophole

    Handicapped-spot law has loophole
    Nondisabled drivers' use of other person's permit apparently legal
    By Shelley Hill and Devon Marrow
    Knight Ridder

    COLUMBIA - Some local law enforcement agencies say S.C. law does not allow them to ticket someone who isn't disabled but uses someone else's permit to park in a handicapped spot.

    But other law enforcement agencies say they ticket people for doing that, arguing the law's intent is for the placards to be used only when a disabled person is in the car.

    Advocates for the disabled and some legislators say the law needs to be clarified and strengthened so it can be better enforced.

    One legislator who is disabled said he plans to introduce legislation that would ensure that people who aren't disabled can't park in handicapped spaces using someone else's permit.

    "I want to make sure these people are brought to justice and make sure they are fined properly if they are not physically disabled," said Rep. Joe Brown, D-Richland, who lost a leg 10 years ago after he fell from a tree and shattered his ankle. Earlier this week, a government watchdog group and advocates for the disabled criticized Columbia City Council member E.W. Cromartie after he used a parking permit he said was issued to his mother to park in a handicapped parking space while he attended a meeting.

    But officials with the Department of Public Safety say what Cromartie did isn't illegal under state law.

    S.C. law says it is illegal to park a car in a handicapped parking space without displaying a permit. But public safety spokesman Sid Gaulden said the law doesn't address whether the person to whom the permit has been issued must be in the car.

    State law does say it is illegal for someone who is not handicapped, or who is not transporting a handicapped person, to use the permit to park at a metered space without paying the meter. Gaulden said the law doesn't address other handicapped parking spaces.

    Cromartie was not available Thursday for comment on the department's interpretation of the law. On Monday, he apologized for parking in the space. He also asked city staff Wednesday for an update on plans to make city facilities more accessible to disabled people.

    Advocates for disabled people said the use of a handicapped parking space by a person with a permit but who doesn't have a disability circumvents the intent of the statute.

    "If that's the way they are interpreting it, that means there really isn't a law other than downtown, where there are parking meters," said Kermit Short, executive director of the S.C. Spinal Cord Injury Association.

    Lt. Joseph Pellicci, spokesman for the Richland County Sheriff's Department, said officers ticket people who are parked in handicapped spaces without a permit but don't ticket people who have a permit that does not belong to them.

    Some law enforcement agencies say they ticket people who aren't disabled if they park in handicapped parking spaces by using someone else's permit.

    Cayce Public Safety Director Charley McNair said police officers in that Lexington County city have issued tickets to people who parked in handicapped spaces by using someone else's permit.

    McNair said the law should be improved to make it more easily enforceable. He said a solution would be to have the person's name on the permit.


    http://www.myrtlebeachonline.com/mld...al/6331025.htm

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