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There are few accessible parking problems

Accessible parking spaces are not hard to see in parking lots. The spaces, commonly known as handicap parking, are outlined in blue paint and have a sign on a post which designates the space and what the penalty is for violators. Jamestown Chief ...

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Local and state officials said for the most part people don’t park in accessible parking spaces unless they are legally allowed to do so. John M. Steiner / The Sun

Accessible parking spaces are not hard to see in parking lots.

The spaces, commonly known as handicap parking, are outlined in blue paint and have a sign on a post which designates the space and what the penalty is for violators.

Jamestown Chief of Police Scott Edinger said for the most part people in Jamestown are respectful of accessible parking spaces.

"I've only seen it (illegal parking in accessible parking spaces) a half-dozen times in my adult life," he said.

In 2016 there were only eight citations for accessible parking violations in Jamestown, which is up from three citations issued in 2015, according to the Jamestown Police Department.

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The penalty for someone who is illegally parked in a handicap parking space is a $100 fine.

Pam Mack, director of advocacy services for North Dakota Protection & Advocacy Project, said the $100 fine has helped keep down the instance of violations.

Mack said she talked with the other directors at North Dakota Protection & Advocacy project about accessible parking complaints, and no one could remember the last time a complaint was made to the agency.

"I don't think it (people illegally parking in accessible handicap spaces) does happen," she said. "We've created enough knowledge in this state about the importance of inclusion of people with disabilities that for the most part people are respectful of these accessible parking spaces."

Mack said the state agency also hasn't received complaints about people abusing the use a vehicle with an accessible parking placard, like someone using the placard and parking in an accessible parking space who doesn't have a mobility issue.

Mack said the state law relies on the honor system to stop people from using an accessible parking placard in this manner.

Mack said there are still problems with a lack of accessible parking in downtown areas in most North Dakota communities.

"But, we also haven't found any cities in the state that aren't in compliance with the law," she said.

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North Dakota Protection & Advocacy Project is an independent state agency that ensures the civil and legal rights of people with disabilities are protected and supported. The agency is supported by federal and state dollars, according to Mack.

Edinger said anyone who has an accessible parking placard or license plates may park just about anywhere, but there are limits.
"They can't park in front of the entrance to a store (or building)," he said, "They can't impede the flow of traffic."

Accessible, or mobility impaired, parking placards are issued through the North Dakota Department of Motor Vehicles.

According to information provided by the DMV, a person may qualify for a mobility impaired parking permit if: he or she uses portable oxygen or has an orthopedic, neurological or other medical condition that makes it impossible to walk 200 feet without assistance or rest; or is restricted by cardiac, pulmonary or vascular disease from walking 200 feet without rest.

A person who has any one of these qualifications must fill out an application and sign it and have it signed by his or her qualified physician, chiropractor, physician's assistant or advanced practice registered nurse.

Once the application is approved, the applicant will receive one or two placards. There are three types of placards: permanent nonreversible, permanent reversible and temporary. The two permanent placards are blue, the temporary is red. The permanent nonreversible is renewed every three years and does not require the applicant to contact a physician to renew the permit. The permanent reversible placard requires the applicant to contact a physician to complete a new application when the current placard expires.

A temporary placard is good for three months from the date it is issued and a new application, signed by the applicant's physician, must be submitted to get a new temporary placard.

Placards must be displayed unobstructed from a vehicle's rearview mirror. A vehicle with a placard, mobility impaired license plates or Disabled American Veteran license plates may park in a designated parking space, but only when the person for whom the placard or license plates were issued is in the vehicle.

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The placard may move to different vehicles with the person for which the placard was issued.

For more information about mobility impaired parking placards, go to " target="_blank">bit.ly/2mQGeqD.

Related Topics: TRANSPORTATIONJAMESTOWN
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