Lawmakers propose tougher penalties for handicap parking violators
By Matt Mikus firstname.lastname@example.org January 22, 2013 6:06PM
Updated: February 25, 2013 12:14PM
INDIANAPOLIS — Legislation to increase the minimum penalty for parking in a disabled parking space from $50 to $200 passed the Senate Corrections and Criminal Law committee. Current law places a fine between $50 and $500.
Bill author Sen. Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso, said tickets are written only when citizens call in a complaint. A steeper fine would help deter motorists from taking spaces designated for disabled residents.
“I don’t think it’s ever OK for anyone who isn’t handicapped to park in a handicap spot,” Charbonneau said, “even if it’s a minute or an hour.”
Senators worried the increase would be too stiff a penalty. Sen. Joe Zakas, R-Granger, asked for a tiered system with a lower fine for first-time offenders and steeper fines for repeat offenders.
“I don’t see why we should penalize someone who just pulls in to pick up a pack of cigarettes,” Zakas said.
He also wondered whether there were any efforts to crack down on misused handicap placards and license plates being used when they no longer qualify.
Sen. Lonnie Randolph, D-East Chicago, asked if Charbonneau would consider lowering the minimum to $100, but he was not interested.
“I think $200 is reasonable,” Charbonneau said.
The bill passed the committee with a 5-4 vote.