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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

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Constable's Notebook - September 2005

When I initiated the Constable Handicap Parking Volunteer Enforcement Program 10 years ago, most of the tickets written were for vehicles parked in handicap parking spaces that did not have handicap parking license plates or hangtags. Many tickets are also issued for vehicles parked on diagonal stripes which are designated for van unloading and for vehicles blocking ramps.

In the past year we have witnessed an increasing number of people using other peoples’ hangtags to park in handicap parking spaces and at parking meters. More than half of the tickets I have written this year were to people who used another person’s hangtag. Often hangtags used in this manner belong to a relative, friend, or deceased family member and some have even been purchased at flea markets and on E-Bay.

In Texas it is a crime to use another person’s hangtag or to purchase a hangtag from any source other than the county tax office. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) signed by President Bush (41) in 1992 guarantees access rights for persons with disabilities. When handicap parking spaces are not available to those with disabilities, they are often not able to gain access to stores, businesses and entertainment venues that are not a second thought for able-bodied people. Excuses we have heard range from people not wanting to park so far away, the cost of parking-especially downtown, that the spaces were not being used anyway and, “I’ll only be using it for a minute.” I wish that every violator would have to put themselves in the place of a person with disabilities just for 24 hours.

Because parking enforcement volunteers do not have authority to do what is necessary to effectively write tickets to people who use other peoples’ hangtags, I have asked the Travis County Commissioners Court to fund a position specifically to pursue these violators. My hope is that after a year of intensive enforcement, this position would no longer be needed. Please encourage your family, friends and neighbors to help eliminate the need for additional enforcement by respecting the letter of the ADA and the rational behind the federal and state legislation.



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