Police cracking down on illegal parking in handicap zones - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Police cracking down on illegal parking in handicap zones

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

It's tempting for many drivers, especially in the busy holiday months.  The parking lot of the mall is full.... except for a lone handicap spot at the very front.  This month, Waterloo Police are keeping a close eye on drivers who give in to the temptation.

"It's frustrating," said Sandie Derifield, a Cedar Falls resident who uses a disabled parking permit.

Derifield depends on her permit to get through her daily routine -- like running errands. Arthritis pain makes it difficult for her to walk more than a few dozen yards. We talked with her outside a Waterloo store, where she had just snagged the only open disabled parking spot.

"It takes a lot just to get out of my apartment sometimes, just to walk down the stairs and get in my car and drive," she explained. "So if there's not a parking spot within a distance I can walk, sometimes I just leave."

It's always illegal to park in a restricted zone. But this month, officers in Waterloo are stepping up enforcement as part of December's Quality of Life Initiative.

"There are many people who deserve that spot. They have a disability of sorts, and we don't want people who aren't disabled occupying those spots," said Director of Safety Services Dan Trelka.

Derifield is thankful the police are paying closer attention to the problem, and she's hoping that attention continues long after the calendar page turns.

"It's not really just the holidays, but all year long. Everybody just wants to get a close space, maybe just to run in for a minute. And they don't realize they take that from someone who needs it," she said.

Waterloo police are also watching out for drivers parked illegally in fire lanes. According to state law, you'll face a $50 fine for the fire lane violation. If you're caught parking illegally in a handicap zone, officers will ticket you $200.

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