Chelsey Brown is a graduate student at Florida A&M. She has a handicap parking permit, but too often Brown finds that the spaces reserved for handicap parking on campus are occupied by vehicles without a permit.
“When it comes to the availability of handicap parking spots, I definitely feel that it is limited on campus,” she said. “I have been in a situation where I can’t get to class on time because I had nowhere to park.
“People park in the wrong spot all the time,” Brown added.
As of Feb. 16, 331 disabled parking permits have been issued in Leon County, according to county officials. There is a requirement that there must be a certain number of parking spaces to accommodate every disabled driver.
Unfortunately for people who need the handicap parking spots, too often those spaces are occupied by vehicles without a handicap permit.
Thee is also the issue of drivers borrowing a friend’s handicap permit to park close to their desiination — even though they are perfectly healthy. It is illegal to use a friend’s or family member’s permit, alive or deceased.
Doris Maloy, the Leon County Tax Collector, went into detail about the use of other people’s permits.
“The state of Florida is trying to reduce the number of fraudulent parking placards. You may have someone in the family that is now deceased, but they just got their parking placard;” Mallory said. “It’s good for four years or forever, and that family member may continue to use that placard.”
Which can leave people who actually need to use the handicap spaces — and have a permit — in the lurch.
“I know for a fact that there are people who have parking permits that don’t belong to them and still use them. They just want a good parking spot and don’t care about people like me who actually need it,” said Jeterrica Pugh, a student with an issued handicap permit. “It’s not fair, I have the permit for a reason.”
People illegally park without keeping in mind that someone may possibly need the spot. The number of disabled parking spots average about three or four per parking lot, meaning that they’re already at a minimum without people illegally parking in them.
“This issue is very serious and I encourage everyone to turn in any permits that don’t belong to them because you can be charged or receive a citation from law enforcement,” Maloy said.