CHERRY VALLEY, Ill. (WTVO) — Stores will be filled with holiday shoppers later this week, and that means more packed parking lots.
However, that does not mean that busy shoppers can take just any spot. From last minute grocery shopping to “Black Friday,” parking lots will be full. Handicap spots and ones at the very back of the lot are many times the only ones open during the holiday season.
A local man said that he is frustrated, because he actually needs that parking spot.
“There is times where if I can’t find a handicap spot and we park a little furthers away, you know,” Emmanuel Bahena said. “I haven’t been able to walk in over a year.”
Bahena said that he got hurt at work and it left him disabled, forcing him to be bound to a scooter or wheelchair. He said that it is frustrating because he needs the parking spot, and others are just taking for granted their ability to walk.
“To be honest with you, it’s rough,” Bahena said. “There has been times where I’ve gone to the store and I’ve noticed vehicles parked in the handicap not having the plaque.”
Handicap spots have specific signs or markings. They are usually closest to the door to make it easier for people with disabilities to get inside. These spaces are required by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“It’s discourteous and against the law to use those handicap spots if you don’t have that parking privilege, so it makes it that much more difficult for somebody who actually deserves or needs that parking spot,” said Sergeant Bryon Muraski of the Cherry Valley Police Department.
Muraski said that hose using the spots need a decal or special license plates. Parking without one or using someone else’s decal can end in a ticket. Cherry Vally Police warn that violating these parking laws starts with a $250 fine and can go all the way up to having one’s driver’s license suspended.
“During the busy holiday season, parking lots are full,” Muraski said. “There is a lot of traffic, a lot of people around. Just try to use some courtesy and patience so we can all can get along and get through the holiday season together.”
Muraski and Bahena encourage shoppers to think of others and not misuse the handicap parking.
“If you don’t need to park there, don’t park there,” Bahena said. “Just remember there is always someone out there who needs it more than you do, especially you don’t have the plaque. Don’t risk it, why waste your money?”
Police will have high patrols this holiday season.