Handicap spots are there for a reason

Published 5:49 pm Friday, April 26, 2019

Following my surgery in October, the surgeon said I should not drive for 4-to-6 weeks.

Considering how much discomfort I was in at the time, it was good advice. The mere act of getting in and out of the car was quite uncomfortable.

During my very infrequent trips out of the house during the time of my recovery, I remember having the discussion a time or two with my driver … I mean my wife … about how to drive, where to turn and where to park.

Let’s just say I am a terrible side-seat driver and I am pretty sure she dreaded having to take me anywhere during that time.

But regardless of my discomfort, I often times didn’t mind the walk from the parking lot to the door of where we would happen to be. The simple of act of walking was therapeutic and I usually enjoyed getting out of the house.

Never once did I consider asking for a temporary handicap placard, or even think of asking Stephanie to park in a handicapped spot without such approval. I even cringed one time briefly using the “guest parking” spot at church one Sunday morning.

All of that lead to my feelings this week when I stopped and observed — on more than one occasion — seeing those without placards and obvious disabilities whip into a handicapped parking spot, literally hop out of their car and run into the store.

I have been post surgery for months and I don’t even look as good as they did getting out of their car.

Maybe it was my guilty conscious, upbringing or heartfelt regard for those with legitimate disabilities that led to my frustration with those who apparently were taking advantage of a spot left for those who need to get a head start on others at the grocery store.

In short, it ticked me off.

But, given all that our law enforcement officials are asked to do each day, maybe it is simply too much to ask of them to tackle such a violation.

Maybe the eye roll, shake of the head or stare of disbelief I provided was enough to convict those I thought were taking a short cut. Maybe not.

In 2010, legislation in Mississippi — legislation backed up by then and current Attorney General Jim Hood — clearly stated it is illegal to park in a handicapped parking space without a placard of license.

“If you are caught parking illegally, the fine for a first or second offense is $200. If you are convicted more than twice, you are subject to license suspension of 90 days and additional fines. These penalties will not be waived or suspended,” the guidelines said.

Hood went even further, saying, “I direct your attention to Section 27-19-56 of the Mississippi Code. It provides that all law enforcement officers are authorized to enforce this law on public and private property. Also, the owner of private property may tow away a vehicle that is parked on the owner’s private property in violation of this section at the vehicle owner’s expense.”

It is this legal standing, this call to enforcement that is needed to ensure such violations become a thing of the past.

These spots are provided for those who truly need it. Not those who are simply in a hurry or too lazy to walk a few extra feet.

Tim Reeves is editor of The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at tim.reeves@vicksburgpost.com.

About Tim Reeves

Tim Reeves, and his wife Stephanie, are the parents of three children, Sarah Cameron, Clayton and Fin, who all attend school in the Vicksburg Warren School District. The family are members of First Baptist Church Vicksburg. Tim is involved in a number of civic and volunteer organizations including the United Way of West Central Mississippi and serves on the City of Vicksburg's Riverfront Redevelopment Committee.

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