You’re just going to run into the store for a couple of minutes, but there’s no parking nearby, except for the spot reserved for the disabled.

Ahh, you figure, it’ll only be a couple of minutes – what could it hurt?

It could hurt your wallet, not to mention keeping someone disabled from using the spot they need and deserve.

Last year in Santa Rosa, city parking officers and police officers issued a total of 750 tickets for parking in disabled spaces, said Kim Nedeau, parking programs coordinator for the city. In some cases, the drivers forgot to display their disabled placards and if they can prove they have a placard, their tickets are dismissed.

But for others, the city fine is $350 if it’s paid within 21 days. After that, there are late fees that can add up to a total of $525.

Petaluma last year issued 48 such tickets, but the fine is steeper: $600 with a late fee of $50, Police Sgt. Ken Savano said.

Nedeau said violators often tell enforcement officers that they parked in the disabled spot because they were running a quick errand, such as going to the post office or getting a cup of coffee.

She said some violators don’t realize that parking over the hash marks next to disabled spots also isn’t allowed. It limits access for disabled drivers.

Others get ticketed for using someone else’s disabled placard. You can’t do that unless that person is in the car too.

Nedeau said the city gets calls about possible violators, but it often turns out that the suspect, while not having an obvious disability, is disabled and has a valid placard. She suggested that disabled drivers keep their DMV paperwork with their placard to show to enforcement officers if a dispute ever arises.


Follow the Road Warrior on Twitter via @PDRoadWarrior