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 approved by the Senate today by a vote of 36 – 0.
“In this day and age, almost every driver can identify a handicapped parking sign as off limits to anyone without disability, even if some choose to ignore it,” said Senator Karcher, D-Monmouth and Mercer. “However, some drivers have been able to skirt the law when it comes to handicapped parking, and are not ticketed because of a loophole that requires penalties to be posted on the sign. Through this bill, we are clarifying that semantics is not a valid excuse when it comes to violating the handicapped parking laws in New Jersey.”
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.
“It’s ridiculous to think that the lack of penalties posted on a handicapped parking sign somehow absolves drivers of their guilt,” said Senator Karcher. “If you blow through a stop sign and are caught, you’re still going to have to face the penalties, whether you were aware of the specifics or not. I would think that, regardless of their knowledge of the particulars, drivers would know that parking illegally in a handicapped spot is wrong, and the punishment should stand, whether a sign indicates the penalty minutiae or not.”
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 Assembly for consideration.