Onondaga Sheriff's Department cracking down on handicapped parking abuse
Onondaga Sheriff Gene Conway says in the coming months, there will be an increased enforcement effort aimed at motorists who misuse handicapped parking permits. As he made the announcement, hundreds of the ubiquitous blue permit tags were jammed on a nearby table; tags that had been confiscated by people illegally using them at the Lakeview Amphitheater during the past two summers.
"They are permits there that have been altered," Conway said. "There are permits there someone tried to use that wasn’t valid for them. Whether it was their parent or grandparent, they tried to use it themselves to get into the handicapped parking at the venue."
While Conway says the crackdown was prompted by the Amphitheater parking lot misuse, it happens elsewhere. And that’s where SHAPE comes in. It stands for Sheriff's Accessible Parking Enforcement. It uses volunteers to monitor parking lots and write tickets if they find someone misusing the tags according to program administrator John Fedkiw.
“A teenager and 20-something gets in the car and we walk up and go, is this your handicapped placard and they they say no," Fedkiw said. "They try to tell us the placard is issued to the car and not the driver, which the placard is actually issued to the driver.”
Those ticketed are fined, and placards can be confiscated if misused. The sheriff’s department will also begin a education program outlining how to get a placard. Sally Johnston of AccessCNY says she sees the abuse of handicapped placards almost every day.
"We just want to be able to get in and out of our cars and be able to go in and out of facilities like anyone else," Johnston said.
The Onondaga County Sheriff’s Department is starting an enhanced enforcement and education program about handicapped parking passes. Sheriff Gene Conway says one of the biggest misconceptions about the blue hang tags, is that they are connected to a vehicle.