Drivers To Be Hit With $255 Fines For First Offense As County Gets Set To Lay Down Law To Those Who Think They're Above It

MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Inconsiderate drivers may soon pay dearly.

The Nassau County Police Department rolled out a new enforcement push on Thursday to ticket those who don’t belong in accessible parking spaces, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported.

Laura Nugent Carter never had to think about finding a parking space, until she lost a leg in an accident. Now, it’s a daily struggle, with handicapped spots often hogged by others.

“People think, ‘Let me get a spot close so I don’t have to walk.’ I wish I could walk. I wish I could walk.  I’ve been struggling with walking for 11 years,” Nugent-Carter said.

(Photo by Gianni Ferrari/Cover/Getty Images)

Charles Schneider, who is also disabled, said accessible spaces are often taken by thoughtless delivery van drivers.

“And you know he is not handicapped because he is either making pickups or deliveries or both,” Schneider said.

Nassau police wrote 1,800 tickets last year to violators and that number is about to go up.

“Fair warning, right now is that the tickets are coming. The enforcement is going to be increased,” Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said.

MOREPolice: Disabled Man Attacked In Dispute Over Handicap Parking Spot At White Castle

The county launched a crackdown in county parks, beaches and other lots where able-bodied drivers are scooping up what limited accessible parking there is. Some of them illegally use cars and permits of disabled friends and family, while others don’t even bother.

“They want to run in to drop off their dry cleaning or pick up their kids and we say to them this is not acceptable,” County Executive Laura Curran said.

“Permits are designed for individuals, not family members. They are not family heirlooms. They cannot be traded like cards. When you deny someone a space, you deny them access to work, a movie, dinner,” said Matthew Dwyer of the Nassau County Office for the Physically Challenged.

Permits are issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles to those with a certifiable disability. Numbers on the permit reflect a driver’s identification and can be confiscated if used by anyone else, CBS2’s Gusoff reported.

“We are all a heartbeat, a blink of an eye, away from a major disability, and if we think about it, it may change our perspective,” Dwyer said.

“It’s just not nice,” Nugent Carter added.

Curran said the enforcement is not a money grab. The entire fine goes to programs for traffic safety and the physically challenged.

Those tickets for a first offense in Nassau County will be $255.