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Disabled-Veteran License Plate

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Disabled-Veteran License Plate

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
November 6, 2007

Does an Illinois Disabled Veteran license plate entitle a driver to park in a handicap parking place?

Yesterday afternoon I was at 3 Brothers Restaurant and noticed a car parked in one of the handicap parking spaces. The vehicle did not have a handicap placard hanging from its inside rearview mirror or have a handicap license plate, but it did have an Illinois "Disabled Veteran" license plate – you know, the one with the initials D-over-V following the plate number.

Being a curious person I telephoned the Illinois State Police later to inquire whether a driver with this license plate is permitted to park in a handicap parking space. The trooper quite quickly informed me that the Disabled Veteran plate does not entitle a driver to park in such a spot.

Why is this important? The fine for violating a handicap parking space is $250. If you go to court and fight it (how can you win?), then plan on adding probably $100-200 in court costs to that fine.

So it makes a $10 dinner at 3 Brothers very expensive.

What would probably happen is that a Woodstock police officer would not write a $250 ticket to the vehicle and its driver. The driver might even believe that he is entitled to park there, but believing it doesn’t make it lawful. A State Representative from another District told me that police officers will often not cite a driver for a violation, when they believe the fine is too high (or that a person won’t be able to pay it).

It’s called “discretion.”

How do you educate a person about handicap parking privileges? (And they are a privilege, not a right.) I wonder what would have happened, had I called the State Police on the spot for that information and then politely approached the driver, hoping to save him a $250 fine? I guess there are several possible outcomes.

He could thank me for saving him the risk of a huge fine.
He could ignore me.
He could discuss it and agree to call the State Police himself to learn what the law is.
He could blow up and make me wish I had just sicced the cops on him and insisted on a ticket.

There are times when you see an able-bodied driver just whip into a handicap parking spot and take it because it’s close to his destination. Now, that driver deserves a $250 lesson.

Do the police really have a choice, if they observe a car parked in a handicap parking spot with no placard or special license plate? Can or will they exercise discretion? Should they?

If they give a driver in a Cadillac or Lexus or Lincoln a break, but then they don’t give a guy in an old beater the same break, is that fair? Is it even legal?

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