Arkansas establishes hotline, website to report abuse of handicapped parking

Starting Friday, Arkansans that witness handicapped spot abuse can now make the state aware of it through a new hotline and website. (Photo: KATV)

While certainly tempting to grab the spot closest to the door, a new state law has established both a website and hotline to report able-bodied Arkansans robbing the handicapped of the parking reserved for them.

It's prime parking and often the only spot available in a busy parking lot, but the handicapped spot is reserved for those that need it.

"I have problems and my doctor recommended for me to get one," said Betty Bolden explaining why she has a handicapped placard. "I've been using it for a pretty good while now."

And when the handicapped spot is taken by someone who doesn't need it and doesn't have the proper placard or license plate, it makes things difficult for folks like Paul Hayes.

"I get annoyed, annoyed at the least," said Hayes.

But now Arkansans that witness handicapped spot abuse can make the state aware of it. It's all part of a new program established under a law passed by the state legislature last legislative session.

"We have set up an 800-number, and a website, where if an Arkansan is pulling into a restaurant, sees someone who they think they're obviously abusing that spot - they don't have a tag, they're not disabled - they go to our website, take a picture of the vehicle, submit the information and let us take a look at it," said Scott Hardin, spokesman for the Department of Finance and Administration, the department that will help oversee the program.

DFA will review the information and check it against state records to make sure the license plate attached to the complaint doesn't have a handicapped placard associated with it. If it's found that the complaint has merit, DFA will do two things. One, they'll send you a letter telling you that you've been caught.

"Our hope is just that letter may be a deterrent in of itself," said Hardin.

But DFA will also forward your information onto local law enforcement - but whether police act on that information depends on local ordinance and whether enforcement of that ordinance is a local police department's priority.

"Especially in those cases where you see someone doing this five, six times and we're getting the same plate over and over - we're definitely going to alert local law enforcement," said Hardin. "Because you have a problem - can you at least talk to these people and let's try to put an end to this."

Hardin said DFA is looking to crunch the data from the first few months of complaint submissions to see where offenses are occurring the most across the state, and if handicapped parking spot abuse is all that big of a problem in Arkansas.

If you see someone you believe is abusing handicapped parking, you can submit a complaint by calling (866) NO-PARK-5 or by heading to this website.

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