(November 16) Following publication of a Chicago Sun-Times series that uncovered widespread illegal use of state-issued disabled placard and plates within the City Limits by non-disabled motorists, Alderman Margaret Laurino (39th) today called for hearings to examine the implementation of steeper fines and more stringent enforcement by police.
By fraudulently using disabled placards and plates, scofflaws were able to park for free at metered parking spots and gain access to prime parking spaces in congested areas of the City, according to the series.
"Drivers who illegally park in these spots are not only breaking the law, they are also abusing disabled residents by denying them designated locations near important entrances," Ald. Laurino said. "This measure will not only help rectify abuse of the law but also ensure easy access by disabled residents to important services at hospitals, clinics, grocery stores and government offices."
Alderman Laurino, the Chairman of the Committee on Pedestrian and Traffic Safety, said that she introduced a resolution today which calls for hearings into the matter. The resolution calls on Karen Tamley, the Commissioner of the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities, to testify regarding her recommendations to curb the abuses. Representatives from the Chicago Police Department would also be called to testify regarding implementing steeper fines and stricter enforcement.
The series reported that the City of Chicago issued approximately only a dozen tickets annually to such scofflaws between 2006 and 2010, and that the number of citations increased to 155 tickets in 2011.
Currently, individuals caught using disabled placards or license plates without the holder present in the present in the vehicle face a $500 fine and a 30-day license suspension.