Reader curious about disabled parking

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Dear Sun Spots: My wife and I read your column daily for its most useful information. Good job!

We have a few questions in regard to handicapped parking. In the case of Wal-Mart, for example, or almost any large retail store, we see specific areas painted on the asphalt saying “No Parking,” and yet there are often vehicles parked on the sign. There are also signposts stating that there is a fine attached for illegally parking in a handicapped spot without a handicap plate or card.

Our questions: Who is responsible for enforcing these laws and fines? Where do the fines get applied – to the retail outlet, to the city, other? Why aren’t they enforced more than they are?

I seem to remember that my wife mentioned her father got a $50 ticket for this because he had forgotten his tag that day, and parked in a handicapped spot. I don’t think he had to pay it after he explained the circumstances, though. I would expect a number of people would be interested in how this handicapped parking works. Thank you. – Concerned Citizens, Lewiston.

Answer: Gov. Baldacci signed a bill April 4 that doubles the minimum fine for parking in a disability parking space or an access aisle to $200. The maximum fine is $500. The new legislation also changes the term “handicapped parking space” to “disability parking space.”

Regarding your question about the enforcement of the law: In the public sector, such as municipal parking garages and public roadside parking, enforcement is the responsibility of the local police department who patrol and ticket. The state police enforce disability parking restrictions on the Maine Turnpike and on the interstate highway system in the state.

With malls and department stores that have private parking lots with public access, enforcement is the responsibility of the property owner or business. Businesses, such as Wal-Mart, can either patrol, give warnings or have a vehicle towed. They can request the patrol and enforcement from the town’s police department, which Wal-Mart does.

The new law also states that anyone who observes a violation may report the violation to a law enforcement officer. If a report is made, the observer shall report the time and the location of the violation and the registration plate number and a description of the vehicle involved. The officer shall initiate an investigation of the reported violation and may cause the registered owner to be served with a summons for the violation.

This leads to your second question regarding the fines: The entire $200 fine, or more depending on the violation and fine imposed, goes directly to the town’s general fund. As for why the disability parking spaces and access aisles aren’t enforced more than they are, and I’m assuming you’re referring to the spaces at retail stores, that would be a good question to ask the store’s management.

Dear Sun Spots: I have three questions. Firstly, is there any place nearby besides H.E.A.R. that could help my husband get a hearing aid?

Also, might any readers have plastic canvas books that they would trade for others? I also have some that aren’t finished that they can have.

In addition, might anyone have a Siamese cat or kitten that they would be willing to give away to a very country home. My granddaughter just lost hers recently. She misses it very much. Please call 782-6953 between 8 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. – No Name, No Town.

Answer: In addition to responses from readers, try contacting SeniorsPlus, 465 Main St., Lewiston, 795-4010 or (800) 427-1241, and request information on how to qualify for a hearing aid at reduced cost. You might also like to try contacting the Western Area Agency on Aging, 465 Main St., Lewiston, 795-4010, and request information on how to qualify for a hearing aid at reduced cost. Another option is to contact Hear-More, P.O. Box 3413, Farmingdale, NY 11735 ((800) 881-HEAR/4327) and inquire about their amplified and clarity telephones for the hearing impaired. A representative will be happy to assist you between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

This column is for you, our readers. It is for your questions and comments. There are only two rules: You must write to the column and sign your name (we won’t use it if you ask us not to). Letters will not be returned or answered by mail, and telephone calls will not be accepted. Your letters will appear as quickly as space allows. Address them to Sun Spots, P.O. Box 4400, Lewiston, ME 04243-4400. Inquiries can also be posted at www.sunjournal.com in the Advice section under Opinion on the left-hand corner of your computer screen. In addition, you can e-mail your inquiries to sunspots@sunjournal.com

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