City vows crackdown on disabled-parking fraud
A parking permit for a disabled person hangs behind a windshield in Chicago Friday. (Chris Walker, Chicago Tribune / October 5, 2012)
City and state police have confiscated 41 placards and issued 47 citations — one for every five cars checked — during 20 sting operations since Aug. 24.
On Friday morning alone, a team of eight officers confiscated three placards and wrote four citations downtown.
“I believe it is a violation of all laws of human decency for an individual to take advantage of a program that has been set aside for those who are truly in need,” said Secretary of State Jesse White. “Our mission is to make sure that those placards remain in the hands of those who are truly in need.”
Violators face fines ranging from $500 to $1,000 and six-month to year-long license suspensions. They also must pay for towing and storage costs.
Starting Jan. 1, drivers who illegally use handicap parking plates or placards will face even stricter penalties, including the possibility of having their licenses revoked.
Karen Tamley, commissioner of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, applauded Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Secretary White for their coordinated effort to curb abuse over the last year.
With legislative reforms in place, Tamley said police would continue their enforcement efforts to “instill confidence in the public and in the disability community in particular.”
“We must ensure that this program returns to those for whom it was intended,” she said. “People with disabilities who are rightful placard owners.”