Handicapped parking ticket fine doubled to $500 in Joliet

Karen Sorensen | 10/7/2014, 9:13 p.m.
Joliet City Council members decided that if $250 was not enough of a deterrent, perhaps a $500 fine would give ...
Park in a handicapped parking space in Joliet after Jan. 1, and be prepared to pay a $500 fine if caught.

Steal a parking spot reserved for a handicapped driver in Joliet, and be prepared to pay $500 for illegal luxury starting Jan. 1.

The Joliet City Council voted Tuesday to double the fine the city charges to anyone ticketed for violating the ordinance designating certain spots nears stores, restaurants, parks and other amenities for those who are disabled and/or wheelchair-bound.

The change was initiated by Councilman Jim McFarland, who said he had been getting complaints from residents that too many people were ignoring the signs and parking in handicapped slots. Councilwoman Bettye Gavin, who backed McFarland's proposal when it came up at a committee meeting, said she had been told by some violators that it was worth rolling the dice that they wouldn't be caught because the fine was not astronomical.

Under state law, municipalities can charge fines of up to $750.

The ordinance change was approved unanimously. Councilwoman Jan Quillman said she wants the price tag to make able-bodied people think twice before grabbing a parking space meant for someone who can't get around as easily.

"I hope people who are parking in Joliet see that $500 fine and will take it to heart," Quillman said. "We mean business."

Contact Karen Sorensen at Karen@TheTimesWeekly.com.