Wednesday, January 11, 2006
OUPD to enforce handicap-parking violations
By Rebecca Wyatt, OU Web Writer
As the weather gets colder and parking is at a premium, many people are tempted to pull into the first spot they see, even if it’s reserved for someone with disabilities. The OU Police Department (OUPD) and Office of Disability Support Services (DSS) remind the campus community that many people need those spots and there are consequences for parking illegally.
Even with 241 handicap parking spaces on campus, more than required by law, those spaces are still at a premium during key times of the day, according to Linda Sisson, director of DSS.
“Oakland University is very student friendly and wants to meet the needs of all students and even has more handicap spaces than required, but I just want people to reflect and ask themselves if they really need that spot because there are a lot of people I know who truly do and sometimes there are none available,” Sisson said.
After a request for more handicap parking spaces the university last fall added four spots to the P-1 Lot across from North and South Foundation halls and plans to add eight more in the spring to the P-26 Lot near Pawley Hall.
“The university has been proactive in providing more spaces than required and locating the spaces as close as possible to the most populated buildings on campus,” said OUPD Chief Samuel Lucido.
There are two types of violations when it comes to handicap parking spaces — a misdemeanor charge for the misuse of a permit or a civil infraction for illegally parking.
Handicap parking permits are issued to individuals by the Secretary of State and may not be used by someone else. If someone is caught misusing a handicap-parking permit, the violator faces a misdemeanor charge, the permit is confiscated and held as evidence, and the violator also may face a parking violation.
Misusing a handicap permit also requires a court appearance that could result in a fine of more than $100.
During 2005, 21 people were cited with misusing handicap permits and 98 people were issued tickets for illegally parking in handicap spaces without a permit, which carries a civil infraction fine of $50.
“We have a zero tolerance policy to people who take advantage of these reserved parking spaces,” Lucido said.
Many people who use the handicap spaces are not visibly disabled, but may suffer from heart conditions, severe asthma or a number of other disabilities that limit their ability to walk great distances.
OUPD Sgt. Douglas Godwin said officers may ask someone without a physically visible disability to whom the permit is registered and can easily verify that information by running the number on the permit. Officers won’t ask about medical conditions, just the permit registration.
“We don’t stop every person, but we are dedicated to protecting these spaces for the members of our community,” Godwin said.
OUPD plans to continue to be aggressive in monitoring the handicap spaces on campus.
“We have always taken handicap parking violations very seriously,” Lucido said. “Those parking spaces are designated for members of our community with special needs.”