Think twice before parking in handicap spaces on Black Friday

By Cole Lauterbach | Illinois News Network

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White is sending his office’s police force to shopping malls across the state to catch people who are illegally parking in spots reserved for the disabled.

Starting on Friday, White’s office will be sending its police force to mall parking lots in Aurora, Bloomington, Carbondale, Chicago, Fairview Heights, Oak Brook, Orland Park, Peoria, Rockford, Schaumburg and Springfield. Their sole mission is to catch shoppers parking in handicap-reserved spots without the proper placards.

“Taking a parking space from someone in need violates all laws of human decency,” White said.

Secretary of State investigator Glenn Florkow is one of the officers who will be out on patrol. He said there is a typical request from those caught illegally parking in a handicapped spot.

“Occasionally, when a person knows that they’re going to be cited for a violation, they ask for a warning,” he said. “Please, consider this presentation your warning.”

Drivers caught misusing a placard face a six-month driver’s license suspension and a $600 fine.

Repeat violators will face a one-year driver’s license suspension and a $750 fine for a second offense; for the third or subsequent offenses, violators will face a $1,000 fine plus a one-year driver’s license revocation.

The fine for parking in an accessible parking space without a disability placard or disability license plates can be up to $350. Using a dead person’s placard or a fraudulent placard can result in a $2,500 fine and a one-year revocation of a driver’s license.

There are 547,637 permanent disability placards, 62,503 disability license plates and 6,618 disabled veteran plates registered in Illinois.

This is the 12th year of the program.