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Constable Carlos Lopez and his deputies assist the citizens and courts of Travis County

Carlos B. Lopez, Constable

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Bruce Elfant

Bruce Elfant

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Constable's Notebook - August 2004

In September of 1995 pursuant to new state legislation, I established a Citizen Handicap Parking Enforcement Program to ensure that handicap-parking spaces would be available for those who are lawfully entitled to them. I fully expected that with additional enforcement and publicity, citizens would come to understand the need for these parking spaces and comply with state law. As this program begins its 10th year of existence, handicap-parking violations remain as prevalent as ever. It is still common to come across violators who do not have handicap parking license plates or hang-tags, use other peoples’ plates or tags, park on the diagonally striped areas for van unloading and block access ramps. Even though fines for these offenses begin at $250 citizen volunteers will still write 1,000 or more tickets this year.

The most common excuses we hear are “I was just parked there for a minute” and the spaces weren’t being used.” It only takes a minute for a disabled person to drive by, not find an empty space and not be able to go where able-bodied people can go. My goal remains to put this program out of business for lack of need - but to do so I need your help. The first and most obvious assistance would be for everyone to respect state handicap-parking laws. Since that is not likely to happen anytime soon, we are accepting applications for citizen volunteers who will write tickets when they find violations. Citizen volunteers must be Travis County residents at least 18 years of age, have no criminal record and complete a 4-hour state mandated training class. Those who are interested in becoming citizen volunteers can obtain applications at www.constable5.com or by calling 854-9100.

While parking illegally in handicap parking spaces might not rate as the most serious of criminal offenses, violators who can walk a few extra feet to enter a business are often obstructing access for those who cannot. Good citizenship requires that we all do our part to ensure that the rights of those with physical disabilities are respected and protected.

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