Grafton Chief's Column: Parking In A Handicap Zone

  • Comments (6)
This week's column by the Grafton police chief focuses on parking in a handicap zone. Photo Credit: file photo

GRAFTON, Mass. - Question: I recently received a ticket for parking my vehicle in a handicap zone. I was just going into the store for a minute and there were no regular spaces available close by. It was cold and the parking lot was icy, so I figured I could just quickly run into the store without getting a ticket. Don’t I have to be parked in a handicap space for a certain length of time before getting a ticket?

Answer: The answer to your question is no. To park in a space designated for handicap parking, the vehicle must have a handicap plate or placard displayed with the proper permit. It does not matter how long the vehicle is parked in the space. If the vehicle does not have the plate or placard, it will receive a ticket if the violation is observed by a police officer.

The registered owner of the vehicle is subsequently responsible for the violation.

The owner of the vehicle that receives the ticket is subject to a $100 fine under both Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90 Section 2, and the Town of Grafton By-Laws Article 12 Section 21. Normally, the violator will only receive a parking ticket under the Town By-Laws.

Also, any person who wrongfully displays a handicap plate on, or a placard in, a motor vehicle parked in a designated handicap parking space shall be subject to a fine of $500 for a first offense and $1,000 for a second or subsequent offense. According to the General Laws, the registrar shall suspend the operator's license or right to operate of any person found to have wrongfully used or displayed a handicap plate or placard for up to 30 days for a first offense.

Special note:
Please remember to keep your parked vehicles off the roads during snowstorms. Vehicles parked on the road hamper plowing operations and make it difficult for highway crews to properly clear the road of snow and ice. Vehicles left on the road during these times may be ticketed and/or towed at the owner’s expense.

Anyone with questions for the Chief’s Column may submit them by mail to the Grafton Police Department, 28 Providence Road, Grafton, MA 01519. You may also email your questions or comments to chief@graftonpolice.com. Please include an appropriate subject line, as I do not open suspicious email for obvious reasons.

Normand A. Crepeau, Jr.
Chief of Police

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Comments (6)

PopPop18:

Folks just remember Lightning's legal advice has the same value as what you paid for it, Nothing!

Margaret01:

The person asking the Chief of Police the question was certainly aware that he/she was parking in a handicap space. "It was cold, the parking lot was slippery, and I was only going to be in there for a minute" are no reasons for making someone who may need that spot to wait in the car for them to exit the spot. I have no tolerance for someone parking illegally especially when it comes to someone who "needs" that spot. I too will report the plate of anyone abusing this. So if in the future the offender has a handicap plate/placard and comes upon this situation with a car parked illegally I'm sure they will be very understanding of that offender because "they were only in the store for a minute". We'll see.

PopPop18:

As a handicapped patient person, I like to give "GrayGhost" my observations.
It was not easy for getting a permit "application" signed by my doctor. In fact it was he who insisted on me getting a plaque because of my severe cardiac disease that puts me at great risk in very warm or cold weather walking. Plates and plaques are issued by the Registry and filing an application. Looking at me I do not have a missing limb or wheel chair so you might think I and others like me are abusing the system and committing fraud.
The think that I agree with you on I see many times teens and young twenties with obvious no handicap parking and jogging from a spot. Studies have shown the biggest abusers are not the "marginal handicapped" but family members of the plaque holder using the spots when the card or plate holder is not with them. Many places like Gillette Stadium have a security guard look at the plaque's picture to make sure they're in the car because of family abuse. In addition it has been found that because you don't need a license to get a plate or plaque at renewal time the Registry just mails them out. Cases have been prosecuted where people have been using plaques/plates years after the handicap person has been dead for years.

I don't know why the pictures have the option of being covered so you can't see if the plaque holder is in the vehicle. The reason was because of privacy, like you can't tell from a limp, crutches, wheel chair that a person is handicapped, at that point their is no privacy need! Another indication of stupid regulations that lead to abuse!

By the way I call the police or flag them down when there is not a plate or plague on a vehicle. I use to drop my grand children off a pre school, one "gentlemen" without a plate/plaque use to us an HP spot, after leaving a note I finally parked my car behind him and blocked him in for a half hour, when I came out he was glaring at me and I said I didn't realize you had a stupidity handicap. For the next 2 years I never saw him violate the spot again!

notatownie:

you people seriously want to find away around not parking in a spot designated for people who have a handicap?? hey good ideas lightning, how to beat the system.. let the people who have a handicap figure it out.. you have a way to get off of the fine!

Most systems allow for abuse unfortunately, it seems like you two are all in favor of it!

GrayGhost:

I don't condone using a handicapped space if you're not disabled. That being said, it seems to me that there is a lot of abuse and fraud by many placard users that goes unquestioned. It seems to me that doctors are giving placards out like candy on Halloween. I've been amazed by the apparent lack of any visible disability of users in most of the vehicles I've seen using placards. I do understand some of the qualifying physical impairments are not readily obvious or visible but it seems that a lot of people are using the placards even when the disabled person isn't in the vehicle. Isn't it illegal for a disabled person to allow someone else to use their placard? It's difficult to determine who the placard owner is because all of them seem to have a cover that slides over the identifying information. Isn't it illegal to alter a placard. It should also be illegal to obscure the identifying information on a placard.

Okay, go ahead and flame me for questioning the disabilities of people using placards, but this system quite obviously allows abuse and fraud. It needs to be cleaned up big time!

Lightning:

In many states, an official handicapped parking space must have both painted symbol on pavement & a sign on pole or wall with symbol. So, now in court ask if the parking space had both? Then ask if the officer that wrote ticket actually looked under car to verify the symbol! Likely not! Also likely the officer will not have proof of the space being official with him in court! Also, a good judge might give a pass for you having a temporary bad leg such as using a crutch or........
Many stores create their own unofficial handicapped spaces to they can use them with out being in legal trouble.

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