Jesse White targets holiday shoppers

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

Secretary of State Jesse White has directed the Secretary of State Police to conduct a statewide enforcement effort to crack down on people who illegally park in accessible parking spaces at local malls. The Secretary of State Police will kick off their enforcement operation on Friday, Nov. 26, the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season and the busiest shopping day of the year.

Secretary of State Police will be out enforcing the provisions of the Parking Program for Persons with Disabilities at Woodfield, Oak Brook and Orland Park malls on Friday, Nov. 26 as well as at malls in Bloomington, Carbondale, Fairview Heights, Rockford and Springfield.  Other enforcements will take place during the holiday season in cities that include Champaign, Effingham, and Peoria.

Part of the month of November has been declared as Accessible Parking Awareness Month in Illinois.

"We're here today to remind drivers that parking in a disability parking space for those who are not disabled -- is not an option," White said.  "It will cost you a ticket in addition to the money you're spending during the holiday season. In keeping with the holiday spirit, let's be considerate while parking."

The fine for illegally using a placard or disability license plates without the authorized holder of the placard or disability license plates present is a maximum of $500. In addition, violators can be subject to a 30-day administrative driver's license suspension from the Secretary of State for the first offense.

The fine for parking in an accessible parking space without a parking placard or disability license plates can be as much $350.

Secretary White urged people to report abuse of accessible parking spaces by calling (217) 785-0309. Callers should be prepared to report placard and license plate numbers as well as locations of vehicles. People can also report abuse via the Secretary of State's website at www.cyberdriveillinois.com and complete the Parking Program for Persons with Disabilities Abuse Complaint Form.

In addition, Public Act 096-1125, takes effect Jan. 1, 2011. This new law strengthens penalties to property owners who fail to keep their accessible parking spaces and access aisles clear after being notified by local police or code officials about an obstruction in their accessible parking spaces. This legislation was an initiative of the Greater Illinois Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and was supported by the Secretary of State.

There are over 443,000 placards and approximately 84,000 disability license plates in Illinois.