Crack Downs Begin on Illegal Handicapped Parking

36 percent rise in violations from 2017 to 2018

Mike Baggerman
June 13, 2018 - 12:26 pm

Handicapped Parking Spots at Orchard Park Town Hall. June 13, 2018 (WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman)

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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WBEN) - Erie County Comptroller and area police agencies announced plans to crack down on individuals who illegally park in handicapped parking spaces.

Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw said surcharges increased 36 percent in the first quarter of 2018 from the same period in 2017. 

"We actually believe the number may be more," Mychajliw said. "But when it comes to court, obviously that is the authority of the district attorneys office or those respective courts and towns."

Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard announced plans for his office to increase patrols of handicapped parking spaces. Scott Joslyn from the sheriff's office said violations also include those who take a parking tag from someone else and using it to park in a handicapped spot.

"It's more than an inconvenience," Joslyn said. "The permit holder must be an occupant in that vehicle when it is going to be displayed and used. That's going to lead into the enforcement efforts for what is going to be our (Bills) preseason game in less than eight weeks. There are designated ADA lots and you will find yourself speaking with a deputy at every point of ingress and egress where we will be checking permits and making sure the permit holder is actually an occupant of that vehicle." 

If a handicapped parking tag is seized, it will be returned to its respective municipality. 

Penalties for parking illegally in a handicapped spot will initially cost you $50-$75. Second violations could double the fine. There may also be surcharges depending on the municipality the violation occurred in.

According to a report by the comptroller's office, Amherst, Cheektowaga, and Concord see the highest amount of money collected that is forwarded to Erie County and used to fund handicapped parking education programs. 

Real Life Effects

Gloria Pfohl, an Orchard Park resident, was leaving Orchard Park Town Hall when we spoke with her. She said people take handicapped spots illegally on occasion.

"Especially if you go to a place where it's very busy, (handicapped parking spots) are really necessary," she said. "Especially in the winter. If I can't park in one of the spaces close by, I can't go in."

She said people should think twice about those who really need the space. 

"Maybe they had a real good reason or something," she said. "But a lot of times you know that they don't."

Orchard Park Town Supervisor Patrick Keem was involved in a serious accident in 1991 and used a wheelchair for over six months.

"God has a strange way of teaching us all lessons because I was one of those who, once in a while, when a parking lot was full and there were a lot of empty handicapped parking spaces, I'd complain they had too many handicapped parking spaces," Keem said. "I really learned a lesson. For over six months. I learned to appreciate the importance of handicapped parking spaces. I ask everyone, please obey the law...These spots are reserved for people for a good reason."

WATCH: Orchard Park's Gloria Pfohl on handicapped parking

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