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White Seeking New Ways To Crack Down On Disabled Parking Abuse

CHICAGO (CBS) — Amid recent reports of widespread abuse, Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White is looking for ways crack down on those who illegally use handicapped placards or license plates to get free parking.

WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports White threw out some ideas at the first meeting of a new traffic safety advisory panel.

The secretary has named former U.S. Transportation Secretary Sam Skinner to head a sub-committee that will study the problem and come up with recommendations.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports

One that Skinner says might work: using new technology to catch cheaters.

“Permits that can be read electronically. License plates can be read. They could be matched together. We can use computer programs to model where these people are parking and whether or not they’re genuine and we can match it up against people that have the permits, who’s the doctor that issued the permits,” Skinner said. “There’s all kind of things you can do with technology.”

Skinner said he’s open to all ideas, but seemed to be leaning against one lawmaker’s idea of ending free on-street parking for all but a few of the disabled.

“I was with President (George H.W.) Bush in ’91 and ’92 when we passed the Disabilities Act. President Bush … thinks that’s one of his most important things that he did. Parking for the handicapped was an important part of that bill. We want to make sure it works in Illinois,” Skinner said.

As a first step, White has proposed toughening the penalties for abusers, although he conceded that the biggest problem is lax enforcement.

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