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IN increasing handicap parking fines

The fines for illegally parking in a handicap space will double July 1.

Senator Ed Charbonneau’s (R-Valparaiso) bill originally raised the minimum fine for parking in a handicap zone without a permit from $50 to $200, but he lowered that amount to $100 after concerns he couldn’t advance his bill out of committee.  Those concerns were due to push back from lawmakers like Senator Jim Tomes (R-Wadesville), who says he still has issues with the severity of the punishment.  Tomes says he’s thinking about people like his elderly mother who, while not handicapped, might inadvertently park in one of those spaces.

“A $50 fine would be substantial for them, as it would be, I think, for a lot of people.  But a $100 fine for somebody who’s struggling just to make it?  I just felt that we should just be a little bit more considerate of what we’re doing here.”

Charbonneau says the real problem is not the amount of the fine – it’s enforcement.  He notes only about 200 citations were issued in the entire state last year, and he acknowledges he doesn’t have a solution for that.

Charbonneau says what he’s working on now is looking at how the state distributes handicap plates and tags in the first place.

“The sticker may be on that car legally because of somebody else but here we have someone that just absolutely doesn’t need to be parking in a handicap spot utilizing that placard improperly.”

Tomes says he agrees with Charbonneau and would support efforts to address the problem by reforming the system from that direction.

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.