Illegal handicap parking fees to double in Richmond

By Gene Petriello - bio | email

RICHMOND (WWBT) - The amount you pay for illegally parking in a handicap spot is about to double in Richmond, from $100 to $200. It's a lot of money to shell out, that even some people who do have handicap tags say is a little excessive.

Plenty of open handicap spots in the parking lot NBC 12 visited on Sunday, but sometimes Phillip Jackson finds the spots full, of non-handicap drivers.

"You know, they shouldn't be there. Get you kind of mad," said handicap driver Phillip Jackson. "Sometimes you just got to go with the flow and find the best space for a parking spot."

He's in favor of the increased fines and so too is Maurice Brooks. But, he is a little more understanding.

"You're talking about an excess of another whole $100. That's a lot for just parking in a handicap spot," said Brooks.

His reasoning is simple. "You never know why people park in a handicap space. They may have a legitimate reason. I know they shouldn't."

But the city says the only legitimate reason to park in these spots is if you're allowed to. More than 900 violations were handed out in Richmond during the 2009 fiscal year. That brought in a little more than $60,000.

The increased fines could pump up the city's general fund between $50,000 and $70,000.

We found a car on Sunday morning without any sign of needing to be parked in a handicap spot. So, we asked the driver if she had any tag and sure enough, she did. But, it was not displayed. An honest mistake that could cost a lot of time to correct.

"He would have gotten after me. And, I normally put it up and I forgot. It was so cold!" exclaimed Dorothy Jones.

A mistake, fine increase or whatever the reason, the message from Phillip is clear. "If you don't need it, don't use it."

The fine of $200 is also being assessed if you park in front of a handicap ramp.

There could be one downfall though. The City does recognize that the number of people who choose not to pay the fines because of the increase in price, may go up.

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