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.


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  1. Marion larsen

    While I agree with fining folks illegally parked in handicapped spots, it it interesting to contrast that fine with running a red light. Going thru a red light often involves death or serious injury. How about a story on that. Even finding the fine for red light running is hard to do on the DMV site. Let’s see a story on the danger of red light running. ml

    February 21st, 2013 8:57 am


    If we operated under shariah law, the parking cops could cut off an arm or a leg, thus qualifying the errant driver to LEGALLY use the disabled parking thereafter. Worth considering?

    February 21st, 2013 11:10 am

  3. Wilma Rutherford

    99.99% of people who legally hold handicap parking placards are not “handicapped”.

    Article says, …”while not having an obvious disability, is disabled…”. Folks, if you don’t have an obvious disability, then you are not disabled. AND disabled means you cannot walk – nonabulatory.

    I have seen people get out of a Mercedes and walk into a store. I approach these people and nicely say they could get a ticket for parking in a HC space. They then tell me they do have the HC placard displayed and that they have X or Y or Z disease. Boo Hoo. I have toenail fungus. There are 10,000 diseases and most don’t make you HC.

    Honestly, anybody who can walk into a store and walk out carrying a bag, get into their car and drive away IS NOT HANDICAPPED!!.

    ‘Oh, I have difficulty walking’, they say. They look JUST LIKE ANYBODY ELSE walking. They are not HC. Just because you can’t run the 100m dash in 9.9 seconds does not mean you are handicapped.

    I an sick of this. All the HC parking spaces are always filled anyway because so many people LEGALLY have placards. I hurt sometimes too, arthritis, bad knee, but I can walk. Am I handicapped. No.

    If medical doctors give people Rx for MJ, why can’t doctors give out Rx for HC parking placards “because I hurt when I walk”?

    Good idea. I am going to doctor shop until I find one who will “make me handicapped” then I can get preferential parking too.

    February 21st, 2013 12:45 pm

  4. Will


    The Fine should be HIGHER!

    What really IRKs me is when some, usually young, egotistical self righteous, perfectly healthy person parks their “Special vehicle” in the handicap spot or worse takes the handicap spot as well as the Hash Marked spot, essentially taking up 2 parking spots dedicated to Handicap persons, thinking they won’t get their car dinged by another persons door.

    These people should be taken to jail and have their “Special Vehicle” impounded.

    Also, there should be more enforcement of this law.

    Plus, there should be better marking as some of the dis-abled parking spaces markings are quite faded. But that is no excuse.

    I suggest if the car doesn’t have a valid Handicap Parking Sticker displayed on the car, then have it TOWED AWAY. Period.

    February 21st, 2013 1:07 pm

  5. Equal Access

    William, you seem to be missing the point here by lumping someone who is disAbled into the deeply rooted cultural ignorance that resulted in the signing of the ADA back in 1990 by George H W Bush. Getting educated on the various disAbilities in society, and having a diverse and open mind will do wonders for Individuals who are disAbled, who continue to try and function in a society that doesn’t want them around anyway :)

    February 24th, 2013 10:06 am

  6. Lou Sylvestri

    Come by & see me Wilma & I’ll qualify you for a disabled placard & I won’t charge anything.

    March 8th, 2013 1:10 pm

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