Reporting Pam Zekman
(CBS) — Police agencies have been cracking down on people who abuse handicap parking privileges.
But is a misinterpretation of the law punishing those who need the privilege the most?
Edward Reingold thinks so.
After he dropped off his wife at Northwestern Memorial Hospital for radiation treatments for a brain tumor, Reingold parked nearby in a place reserved for handicapped parking using her state-issued placard.
A police officer apparently ticketed him because his wife was not in the car when he parked.
“He said I was using the placard improperly,” Reingold tells CBS 2’s Pam Zekman. “He confiscated my license and placard and gave me a ticket.”
Reingold tried to explain, but it was no use.
“He didn’t speak to me. He simply kept writing the ticket and handed me the ticket,” he says.
For weeks, without the placard, the couple had to walk a much longer distance from the car.
“It was terrible,” his wife, Ruth Reingold, says.
Last month, Roystene Harris and her husband had a similar problem with the same officer. She was ticketed after dropping her husband off for kidney dialysis and then using his placard to park in a nearby handicap spot.
The officer was interpreting the law incorrectly.
The law says the placard holder must either be in the car at the time it is parked or should be in the car at the time of departure.
Reingold had planned to walk his wife back to the car after her treatment.
His daughter is an attorney who went to court to help fight the ticket.
“Just sitting in the courtroom this morning I spoke to many individuals who had encountered the same officer,” Eve Kleineman says. “They all had situations similar to ours.”
In fact, of the 19 people issued a handicap parking ticket by this one officer, only two were found guilty by a judge that day.
“Either the Chicago Police Department has to change how they apply it or there has to be a different law written to accommodate these sort of situations,” she says.
Bill Bogdan works for the Illinois Secretary of State’s office and has trained police agencies on how to enforce the law meant to crack down on abuses.
“I’m very sympathetic to the individuals that received these tickets,” Bogdan says. “We’ll make every effort possible to provide law enforcement training to ensure police officers issuing these tickets are issuing them correctly.”
Bogdan says that during training he advocates that officers listen to the side of the story that an individual is telling.
“Obviously, the police officer should take every effort to verify the individual’s story before issuing a ticket or citation for this program,” he adds.