Chesterfield could impose $500 fine to curb handicapped parking violations

Chesterfield County

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — The Chesterfield County Police Department is trying to crack down on those who illegally park in handicap spaces.

Each locality gets to decide the cost of the fine people face if they park in a handicap space. Violators in Chesterfield are currently fined $100, however a push across the county has been made to increase the fine to $500.

On Tuesday, 8News spoke with officials and locals who use handicap spaces.

“A lot of people park in handicapped without stickers or they park in between the lines,” said George Bauer, who requires handicap parking after a back injury. “People have got to learn to be more considerate.”

Bauer, 82, faithfully hangs his placard in his car and says he’s relied on designated front row spaces since his injury.

“I got a cane but I can only walk so far,” he explained. “I can’t go anywhere.”

Lisha Jemmont, a veteran who needs to park in a handicapped space due to a neck injury, told 8News she has caught violators in the act.

“Getting in and out of a parking space,” Jemmont said, “I have a fused neck and it can get a little complicated. Just take a couple steps, avoid the fine, there are people who really need to be parking in the spaces.”

A county ordinance states that illegally parking in a handicap space is a $100 fine but police are looking to change the fine to $500, the maximum fine in the state of Virginia.

“We want to make sure that, the ordinance has sufficient teeth, both to dissuade people from doing it and to let people know that we are serious,” Chesterfield County Police Chief Jeffrey Katz told 8News.

Katz explained that the increase is about protecting the most vulnerable in the county.

“Individuals who experience special challenges dealing with mobility and access,” he said. “We need to champion the cause for this and make sure that spaces allocated for their use, are used only by them.”

There’s also a proposal in the ordinance to raise fines for those who park near fire hydrants and in fire lanes from $25 to $75.

Chesterfield County will be hiring 16 police service aides to help enforce fines and catch violators.

The county’s Board of Supervisors will vote on the increases at a meeting on Wednesday. If passed, the new fines will go into effect immediately.

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