February 1, 2009
I must have taken my "nice" pills on Friday because, when I spotted a vehicle parked in one of the handicap parking spaces at Woodstock North High School (WNHS) on Friday afternoon, I decided to call the school, instead of calling the police department. After all, the fine for a handicap parking violation starts at $250.00, plus court costs, so the total is probably in the area of $450 once a judge at the McHenry County courthouse says, "Guilty."
The car had a Woodstock High School Staff parking permit in the rear window, so I called WNHS, in front of whose building the car was parked. I thought, erroneously, that maybe District 200 was saving money on parking stickers and issuing them for both high schools.
No such luck. WNHS doesn't issue parking stickers (no parking problem there (yet)) and could not access the parking sticker list for Woodstock High School (WHS). Then I called WHS, where an employee looked up the permit and told me that the sticker was issued to a person entitled to use handicap parking.
First I was told that the driver could park in a handicap zone. Not so. Without displaying a State handicap placard from the inside mirror or handicap license plates, the driver of a vehicle is not entitled to park in a handicap zone.
At the least, the driver, had a ticket been issued, would have been required to appear in court and explain her story to the judge. On a good day, the judge might let the driver off with a warning. On a mediocre day the judge might assess a smaller fine than $250, and then the driver would be shocked at the clerk's window when the high court costs were added. On a bad day it might have been the whole $250, plus court costs (estimated at $200).
Do Woodstock Police officers issue tickets for handicap parking violators? A State Representative told me that many police officers do not, because of the substantial fine and court costs and the assumption that the driver might have forgotten to display the placard. On the other hand, if they issue a handicap parking violation ticket to someone driving an old beater of a car, will they issue one to a newer luxury car parked at the courthouse or the County Administration building?
And, if an officer does hang a $250 ticket on a Cadillac or Buick in the County building parking lot, how much grief will he get, when that influential person starts barking? I would hope that not one critical word would be uttered to the officer who was just doing his job.
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