Don’t steal what is meant for others

Published 9:23 pm Friday, December 11, 2009

The Demopolis City Council is considering putting more bite into the penalty for unlawful parking in handicap parking spaces by increasing the fine for each offense. City court clerk Karen Broadhead said that 10 years ago, the council increased the fine from $5 to $25, and it has been unchanged ever since.

In my mind, anyone who parks in a handicap parking space without the need for it would kick a walker out from under someone. But before we get into that, here is a little information about handicap parking spaces.

The rules for placing handicap parking spaces dictate that there be at least one such parking place in a parking lot of 25 spaces or less. For a parking lot of 100 spaces, four handicap spots are required, and for a lot of 500 spaces, there must be at least nine handicap spaces.

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Only drivers who had a handicap parking permit or a handicap license plate are allowed to stop or park in a handicap parking place. People with healing injuries or who are disabled for a limited period of time can get temporary handicap parking permits with expiration dates.

The people who these special parking spaces are for do not see them as a convenience as much as a necessity. They are made so that people who need help getting from Point A to Point B can get into the stores or businesses with a minimum amount of pain or struggle.

Most people have seen vehicles parked in those spaces without the handicap permit or license plate. We’ve seen people park there with the permit or license plate who jump out of their vehicles and bebop into the store with no problems.

That’s not right. It’s stealing.

Those spaces are meant for those who need them, and if you use them and don’t need them, you are stealing a service from those who do.

No one wants to look foolish in accusing someone of parking there without need and being told by the accused that they have cancer or lupus or Parkinson’s disease. However, those who are allowed to park there are those with handicap parking permits on their rear-view mirror or those with handicap license plates, and in Alabama, they are readily available through a note from a doctor and a nominal license fee.

Don’t park in a parking place that is not meant for you and block out those who need it. I encourage the city council to ramp up the fine to $100 or up to whatever state law dictates. It shouldn’t matter how much money the city gets from violators — as opposed to what the state gets — but that the number of violators is reduced, and a noticeable fine is the way to do that.

David B. Snow is the managing editor of the Demopolis Times.