A new state law aims to get tough on those who park illegally in handicap parking spots. Gov. Brad Henry this month signed House Bill 2567, which raises the minimum fine for parking in handicap zones from $150 to $500 and gives police more ways to enforce handicap parking laws. The law went into effect immediately.
"I think it is an outstanding piece of legislation,” said Steven Stokes, director of the state Office of Disability Concerns. "This is the only bill of its kind in the nation. In doing our research, we have found it's more comprehensive than any other state has.” The bill was authored by Rep. Paul Wesselhoft, R-Moore, and Sen. Debbe Leftwich, D-Oklahoma City. Wesselhoft, who runs at least one bill every year designed to help the disabled, said drivers often violate handicap parking laws because they are rarely enforced. "It's a very low priority for police to enforce disabled parking, so by raising the fine to $500, that builds an incentive for municipalities to actually enforce the law,” Wesselhoft said. Wesselhoft urges disabled drivers to call the police if they find a vehicle parked illegally in a handicap zone. The $500 fine also applies to counterfeiting handicap placards or using a handicap placard when a disabled person is not in the car.