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Violating Arkansas handicap laws | News

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Violating Arkansas handicap laws
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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - We've all seen people illegally park in handicap spots. In Arkansas, a portion of those fines go to scholarships.

However, some police departments are not enforcing the law.

Going shopping can be a hassle for Mary Thompson and her mother, Betty, because some days they can't find handicap parking.

"We have learned because of the problem finding a handicap space, to go at non-peak hours," says Thompson.

On top of that, people are parked in the spots illegally.

Leonard Boyle, executive director of the Arkansas Governor's Commission on People with Disabilities, says, "There have been times I had to call one of my kids and they will pull the car out for me."

The commission relies on police officers to enforce the law on handicap parking violations. 30 percent of handicap fines go to the state's disability scholarships.

Boyle says, "It's disheartening we cannot give a scholarship to each individual who applies." Over the last five years, Boyle says the scholarships have gone up, which points to a higher number of handicap tickets being give out statewide.

Officials with the Little Rock Police Department shared data with Today's THV that shows officers wrote 131 handicap tickets in 2009, 292 in 2010, and only 13 tickets in 2011.

"Calls are prioritized. With the lack of manpower, our officers are busy answering those calls that are higher priority," says Sgt. Cassandra Davis. She adds that she's not surprised by the numbers.

The Pulaski County District Court, which covers the sheriff's department and state police, had even lower numbers of violations. Officers ticketed 10 people in 2010, but only one person in 2011.

This year, the commission will hand out 27 $1,000 scholarships. The reception is June 20 at the Governor's Mansion.

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