Many people receive fines and violations for all sorts of things. This could come in the form of running a red light, speeding tickets and more. However, what I am going to be talking about has to do with what I feel is a lack of cracking down on violations in another serious area — false use of handicapped placards.
Over the years, it has become more apparent to me how big of an issue this really is, and not just because I have a mild case of Cerebral Palsy. For me it is very challenging to walk longer distances. With CP it is difficult to move your muscles because they are very tight, and stiff. And even though I don’t have CP as badly as others, it still takes a lot more effort for me to get from point A to point B. And I’ll be the first to admit that my balance is terrible, so if there is severe weather outside it makes my chances of getting badly hurt go way up. I’ve had about nine surgeries to this point in my life (four of them on my hips). So if I fall on either of my sides it likely wouldn’t be a pretty site, especially on a sheet of ice. And I don’t always have somebody with me if I fall either, since I try to be as independent as possible. I don’t think everybody understands how vital it is for people like me to get those handicap spots. Its not like its a sympathy card “Here, park closer because we feel sorry for you” type thing. No, it’s because we really do NEED them, and there aren’t enough handicapped spaces as it is.
An article in the Chicago Sun Times in November of last year refers to a police lieutenant who saw more than 80 different situations where people without any disability falsely used handicap stickers. Handicappedfraud.org states that tickets can be issued with fines anywhere between $250 to $3,000 and possible jail time for a maximum of six months.
If that is the case, then I don’t think law enforcement is catching enough people in the act. I highly doubt if someone gets fined that much money they would continue to break the law, and if they did, they’d likely be broke. I understand it’s not an easy thing to do because you have to see the person either coming in or out of their vehicle.
But when I see officers cracking down more on running lights, I get a little agitated. By no means am I saying those things aren’t important or worthy of attention. They are extremely important. But I wish officers would give more attention to the handicap sticker issue. I guess it’s an easy thing to overlook unless you pay more attention to it.
So, many of you might say, “So what? What’s the big deal if there isn’t enough parking and I use a handicap space? I’ll only be there for a minute.” It just breaks my heart to see people who really need the space have to park far away and walk long distances — especially in bad weather. It amazes me how selfish some human beings can be.
Even worse are those people who use their grandma’s handicapped placard. Seriously, did exercise ever hurt anyone? I don’t think so. Or overweight people who use their fat as an excuse to park close. That does not constitute as a requirement for a placard by the Missouri Department of Revenue. Maybe if they got up and walked they wouldn’t be overweight.
I know I use a motorized scooter to get around a lot, and can only walk short distances. That doesn’t mean I don’t wish I could walk further. Someone at Six Flags once told me, “That’s so cool that you don’t have to wait in these long lines to ride the rides.” I replied, “No, not really. I wish I could stand in those long lines like everyone else.” I guess people don’t realize how lucky they are to not need a handicap sticker.