As a person with a disability, often I find myself frustrated from circling parking lots to locate a close parking space. Unauthorized vehicles with no distinguishing car tag or placard visible are frequently parked illegally in spaces designated for accessible parking. Sometimes drivers take advantage of a tag or placard on the automobile to park in the spaces when the person issued the tag or placard is not in the vehicle, which is also illegal.
Texas citizens became frustrated with accessible parking violators. In 1995, the citizens of Austin, Texas formed a volunteer program with the aid of Constable, Bruce Elfant to enforce accessible parking laws and punish violators. The motive of the volunteer task force is to assure that accessible parking spaces are available for individuals with a need. The volunteer task force has spread throughout Texas. Houston’s task force has expanded to include over 600 volunteers.
Volunteers are trained to avoid confrontations with violators. Each volunteer in Houston is required to undergo a background check and complete a four-hour training class. Volunteers in El Paso must be at least 21 years of age and under 25 hours of training. Volunteers have been warned against accepting bribes from violators.
The volunteer task force for the rights of drivers with disabilities is backed by the court system. Texas courts take accessible parking violations seriously, charging $200 or more for each violation. Houston officials protect each driver’s legal right to the road regardless of physical abilities. Offenders with overdue fines become boot eligible. Vehicles owned by offenders may be immobilized until the fines are paid.
Accessible parking spaces allow individuals with impairments to exit an automobile and enter a business with greater ease. Mobility impairments and other physical issues may qualify a person for accessible parking privileges. Mobility impaired individuals include people with mobility devices, orthopedics, neurological issues and those that require rest after walking short distances. The particular regulations may differ slightly from state to state.
Conclusion: Laws are in place to assure the availability of accessible spaces when medically needed. The Texas volunteer accessible parking task force will issue citations to automobiles parked illegally in accessible parking spaces. Only drivers or drivers with a passenger that has been personally issued a placard/hangtag, sticker or automobile tag by the Department of Motor Vehicles should park in an accessible parking space.
(Photo courtesy of “Oh No You Don't” as uploaded by Sister 72 Jackie at Flickr’s Creative Commons.)