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Police to crack down on illegal handicap parking

Police Chief Chris Hargett said officers with the Russellville Police Department enforce traffic laws for the safety and betterment of all citizens, which is why they are starting to crack down on motorists who abuse the use of handicap parking.

Hargett said while officers will find the occasional motorist who has parked in a designated handicap parking spot without the proper authorization to do so, there are other abuses of handicap parking that have come to his attention.

“We have been receiving more and more complaints about the misuse of handicap placards that are hung on a car’s rearview mirror,” Hargett said.

“These placards are issued to people who have a legitimate reason to have to park in a handicap parking spot, but we see more and more people using these placards who have no business using them.”

Hargett said the department has received complaints of people with these placards parking in handicap spaces, but the person or persons who get out of the vehicle don’t appear to have any need for a handicap designation.

“We are fully aware that there are many reasons why a person might be issued a handicap placard to place in their vehicle,” Hargett said, “but when it is overtly obvious that a person with one of these placards is healthy, that’s where the problem is coming in.

“There are people who will use a person’s handicap decal or placard just to get a good parking spot, especially if it’s a busy shopping time, which will be coming up soon with the start of school in August, but it’s not ok to use someone else’s state-issued decal.”

Hargett said that by law, in order to use a state-issued handicap parking decal or placard, the person to whom it was issued must be in the vehicle at that time.

If that person is not in the vehicle, the person operating the vehicle can be subject to citations and/or fines.

“We have talked with the district attorney about this issue, and this is apparently something that has become a problem and needs to be addressed,” Hargett said.

“We have citizens who actually need those spaces so if they are being used unlawfully, we’re going to start checking for that and making sure it doesn’t continue.”