Sunday, September 18, 2016


Easy money for munis:
Enforce handicap parking

IN MY “NECK O’ THE WOODS,” the penalty for parking in a space designated for vehicles with a “disabled” tag or license plate is $250.

I have a handicap tag – it may not be “PC” to write “handicap(ed),” but that’s what I am, and, assuming my one-year-old grandsons don’t make off with it, I have a cane to prove it.

I am able to perambulate, albeit not fast and not for long hikes, so if all the handicap slots are full, I look for a regular spot as close as I can get to my destination.

I also look at the cars parking in the handicap slots.

Too many cars in the handicap slots lack a handicap tag or a handicap plate.

No tag, no plate = $250 ticket.

In Florida drivers are supposed to remove the hang tag from the rear view mirror when driving; some do, many don’t. Sometimes the driver forgets to rehang the tag, but rarely.

I was at a mall in Norfolk VA once when I spotted a tagless car in a handicapped slot. I called this to the attention of a passing cop who prepared to write a ticket. The driver came out of the mall – walking briskly, no sign of a handicap – and told the cop he had a tag but simply forgot to hang it up. The cop told me that since the guy had the tag, he couldn’t write the ticket.

I stayed a little longer and watched as the driver and his passenger returned to the car – neither showed any signs of a physical handicap. Mental handicap, perhaps.

The other day I watched as two young (compared to me anyway) women get out of a car parked in a handicapped slot and strolled into the nearby supermarket. The car had a hang tag.

Florida law makes it pretty clear that unless someone in the vehicle has a physical handicap, using the handicap tag is unlawful. Unfortunately, as my Number One Son the Cop reminds me that there aren’t enough cops to go around so I am reluctant to call the local police department – even on the administrative number; I never would use 9-1-1 for a handicap parking complaint – inconsiderate slob who parked in the handicap slot probably would be gone by the time the cops arrived.

But the ones who have a handicap tag thanks to a relative and who “forget” to remove the tag on the mirror before jaunting off to whatever store is their destination, these people deserve a summons.

I suppose that when they get to court with the tag in hand the judge – ignoring an absence of handicap – will (may be forced to) dismiss the charge. Still, the turkey who unnecessarily took up a handicap slot may remember the inconvenience of having to go to court and reconsider before abusing the handicap slot.

It probably is not “wise” to challenge a person who parks in a handicap slot about the hang tag or a lack of visible handicap. Still, I do occasionally ask a driver who parks in a handicap slot sans hang tag if he (or she) forgot the tag. I try to at least seem polite: “Excuse me, did you forget to hang the handicap tag?”

The inconsiderate ones, whom I assume are mentally handicapped, are the ones I resent the most. People who are too lazy to walk an extra few steps from a “regular” parking slot. They are abusing the tag – as well as taking up a slot that a truly handicapped person – me – might need.

Even before I joined the ranks of those who have a hang tag I resented people who, with no obvious mobility handicap, parked in a handicap space.

I have learned patience; the handicap tag or plate may be there because a passenger has a mobility issue. I was grumbling at one driver who had a tag and was parked in a handicap slot until I saw him remove a fold-up wheelchair from the trunk and wheel it around for his passenger. (The driver wasn’t going to run any races himself.)

Granted, not everyone’s mobility handicap is as obvious as mine – remember the cane. I’ve seen others who slowly make their way from Point A to Point B and I wonder why they don’t apply for a handicap hang tag or license plate.

I’m tempted to go to the local auto store and buy a valve stem core remover. It is a small device that is used to remove the one-way valve in a tire. No core = flat tire. Remove two (or more) valve stems and the vehicle is “stuck” where it sits. (Remove one valve stem and the driver can simply put on the spare.)

Granted, this is a relatively minor aggravation in the grand scheme of things, but it is an aggravation none-the-less.

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