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Emanuel: Stiffen fines for disabled-parking violations

Updated: December 12, 2011 5:02PM

Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s proposal to stiffen fines and tow drivers caught illegally using disabled-parking placards and license plates sailed through a Chicago City Council committee on Monday and will go before the full council on Wednesday.

If approved, able-bodied drivers who use fraudulent placards — or use a disabled person’s placard without that person present — would face stiff penalties if caught in the act by a police officer.

Their cars “would be subject to immediate impoundment” and a penalty of between $1,500 and $3,000, along with an additional $150 towing fee and $10 daily storage fee.

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White was among those supporting the ordinance, telling the City Council’s Committee on Pedestrian and Traffic Safety that state officials also are considering ways to strengthen the state’s parking program for people with disabilities. White plans a top-to-bottom review of the program next year.

The number of people illegally using disability placards and plates is on the rise because Illinois law allows disabled people to park for free in metered spots. As Chicago parking-meter fees have increased, so have cheaters.

A Chicago Sun-Times investigation published last month found that the system is widely abused in Chicago. The number of parking tickets and court cases involving placard abuse has increased, with people using relatives’ placards, fake placards and even stolen placards to park for free.

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