Illinois Secretary of State Police ticketed a dozen suburban violators and 32 throughout the state in a Black Friday crackdown on drivers abusing the availability of handicap-accessible parking spaces at shopping malls.
By the end of the enforcement period, police had ticketed six people at Woodfield Shopping Center in Schaumburg, one in Oak Brook and five in Orland Park.
Secretary of State's spokeswoman Elizabeth Kaufman said the citations were a fairly even mixture of people parking without any disabled license plates at all and those using another person's placard under false pretenses.
Among the six citations in Schaumburg, four resulted in placards being confiscated while three more were taken from those ticketed in Orland Park, Kaufman said.
Information on the placards give officers an expectation of the age and gender of the people to whom they rightfully belong. When there's a suspicion that the person using it doesn't match that description, the officer will follow up with questions, she said.
There were more than 250 contacts with drivers Friday. One was charged with a misdemeanor for being in possession of a placard reported lost or stolen, said Bill Bogdan, disability liaison for the Secretary of State's office.
Even when placards are freely given by a friend or family member, those legitimate owners can face consequences. The placards remain confiscated until a court date or until the fine has been paid, Bogdan said.
Other enforcement locations throughout the state Friday included malls in Bloomington, Carbondale, Fairview Heights, Rockford and Springfield.
"We're here today to remind drivers that parking in a disability parking space for those who are not disabled is not an option," Secretary of State Jesse White said in a prepared statement. "It will cost you a ticket in addition to the money you're spending during the holiday season. In keeping with the holiday spirit, let's be considerate while parking."
Bogdan said shopping malls on Black Friday have become a regular time for the office to crack down abuse. Throughout the rest of the year, enforcement is also carried out at the Illinois State Fair, various sporting events and at metered spaces in Chicago's Loop.
The fine for illegally using a placard or disability license plates without the authorized holder present is a maximum of $500. Violators also can receive a 30-day administrative driver's license suspension for the first offense.
The fine for parking in an accessible parking space without a placard or disability license plates can be as much as $350.
White is asking people to report abuse by calling (217) 785-0309. Callers are asked to report placard and license plate numbers, as well as locations of vehicles. People can also report abuse via the secretary of state's website, at cyberdriveillinois.com.
The state is taking an even harder line on abuse of accessible parking spaces next year. Public Act 096-1125, which takes effect Jan. 1, strengthens penalties to property owners who fail to keep their accessible parking spaces and access aisles clear after being notified by local police or code officials about an obstruction.
There are more than 443,000 placards and approximately 84,000 disability license plates in Illinois. Part of the month of November has been declared as Accessible Parking Awareness Month in Illinois.