Karcher Bill Clarifying Handicapped Parking Laws Be Followed Advances

Legislation Would Ensure that Penalties Still in Place, Even if Not Posted on Sign

TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Ellen Karcher which would clarify that the penalties for illegally parking in a handicapped parking spot are active even when those penalties are not posted on a handicapped parking sign was unanimously approved by the Senate Transportation Committee today.

“Whether it spells it out on the sign or not, we all know that taking a handicapped parking spot from someone in need is illegal,” said Senator Karcher, D-Monmouth and Mercer. “In instances where handicapped parking is clearly labeled, but might not have the entire penalty scheme posted on the sign, the excuse that drivers are not properly notified when they are in violation of the law is ludicrous. These parking spots are designated for people living with disabilities, not because it’s a convenience, but because it’s law, and drivers should honor that or pay the fine.”

The bill, S-1810, would amend current law to ensure that the penalties associated with handicapped parking laws be followed, even when those penalties are not posted or improperly posted on a handicapped parking sign. Under current law, failure to post the penalties for parking in a handicapped spot, even when the handicapped parking designation is clearly defined, could result in a parking ticket being thrown out. Senator Karcher noted that in most other criminal acts or motor vehicle offenses, knowledge of the penalties is not required when proving someone broke the law.

“We don’t post the penalties on speed limit signs, and somehow, most drivers manage to obey the law,” said Senator Karcher. “The idea that semantics within the law can give drivers a loophole to take up handicapped parking spots, designated for drivers with disabilities, is offensive, and contrary to the concept of setting aside handicapped parking spots in the first place. We want to make sure that the handicapped parking laws have teeth, and are not subject to loopholes, to ensure that they’re followed and that disabled drivers have access to public places.”

Senator Karcher noted, just in case there was any confusion, that illegally parking in a handicapped parking space, under current law, carries a fine of $250 for a first offense, and a fine of at least $250 and up to 90 days’ community service for second and subsequent offenses.

The bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

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