In this week’s ‘You Ask, We Investigate’ report, KNWA’s Katelynn Zoellner looked into the abuse of handicapped parking in Arkansas.
There’s been more and more citations against people who illegally park in spaces designated for people with disabilities. And, while it’s tempting to grab the spot closest to the door, robbing the handicapped of the parking reserved for them is against the law.
Sgt. Gene Page with the Bentonville Police Department said 30-percent of the citation goes to the Arkansas Governor’s Commission on People With Disabilities (AGCPD). The other 70-percent goes back to the city where the citation was issued. That funding is then used for awareness campaigns or to create more parking spots.
“The temptation is not worth the fine,” said Page. “Every state is going to be a little bit different, but in Arkansas it can be between 200 and 500 dollars for the first offense for abusing that or it can be a Class A misdemeanor.”
Page said enforcing the law goes beyond law enforcement. He said officers need your help.
“There’s too many parking spaces and too few police officers to monitor everything in a city or county,” he said. “The biggest key is going to be the compliance. And, that’s having business owners and managers letting their employees know and also your customers know that you’re not going to tolerate that.”
But, don’t let someone’s appearance deceive you.
“Sometimes the perception is that someone sees someone park in that spot and think they don’t look like they should have that tag and therefore it’s probably not legal,” said Page. “That person may be disabled or picking up someone that actually owns that vehicle and is disabled.”
If that’s the case, that person is not breaking the law.
“I think as long as you have the person that the tag is registered to, as long as they are in the car, you’re good,” said Page.
In Arkansas, there are two colors of handicap parking placards. A blue license plate or placard belongs to someone with a permanent disability. It must be renewed every four years. A red placard represents a short term disability. Typically they last for about three months.
Page said each placard is numbered, so authorities can run the numbers just like they would a regular license plate to find out who owns it and if it’s still valid.
If you suspect someone is misusing a disabled license plate, placard, or a disabled parking space, you can file a complaint with the state here.
If there is something in your community that you want to know more about, we want to investigate it. You can send your questions to Katelynn at KZoellner@KNWA.com.