Capt. Eric Hamblin, Ardmore Police Department Patrol Division, says on the surface, handicapped parking seems to be a simple issue — either there’s a designated handicapped insignia hanging on display in the front windshield or there’s not. But, in reality there’s more to the story.
“Handicapped parking can also be used by those who have license plates that display the vehicle is used by a handicapped person. And, although the vehicle in a handicapped space does not have a license plate or placard displayed doesn’t mean they don’t have one. Although we do advise people who have obtained the placard to display it to prevent issues or complaints,” Hamblin said.
However, the biggest problem of what appears to be illegal use of handicapped parking is good intentions.
“Many times people with handicaps are not able to drive themselves. So members of their families and/or friends drive them to doctor’s appointments or stores and park in the handicapped spots to allow the person easy access in and out of the building,” Hamblin explains.
“While it is not legal for a person who is not handicapped to have a placard, it is legal for the person with the disability to apply for and get one, which can then be used and displayed whenever they are a passenger in the vehicle.”
Still there is no doubt it is tempting for able bodied drivers to commandeer those “close to the entry” spots, especially in bad weather and under the assumption it will only be “for a minute.” Unfortunately it can be an expensive minute or two. Hamblin says in Ardmore illegally parking in those designated spots is a $70 municipal court fine.
With the exception of parking around city, county and state
buildings, parking lots are private property. Does that mean there are no recourse against those who inappropriately claim the spaces? Hamblin says Ardmore police  officers can and do keep an eye out for those who violate the spaces.
“Often times in the larger parking lots, such as Walmart and the mall lots, we patrol for criminal activity, such as checking for stolen vehicles. At the same time we also look at the vehicles in the handicapped spaces. If it appears the space is occupied by someone who is not handicapped or driving someone who is handicapped we do attempt to locate the driver and issue a citation,” he confirmed. “However, it should be noted trying to locate those drivers is often problematic.”
What about smaller private parking lots, such as the doctor’s building located on the south campus of Mercy Hospital-Ardmore?
“Mercy Ardmore is committed to patients and their family members. In addition to handicap parking spots, Mercy offers a free valet service, weekdays from 5:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., except holidays,” says Tom West Mercy Ardmore security manager, adding those who believe handicapped parking is being abused have options.”
If you should require parking assistance, while on Mercy property, please call (580) 223-5400,” he added.  
According to Oklahoma law, landowners can have illegally parked vehicles towed at the expense of the vehicle owner.
Private citizens can also take action by calling police headquarters at (580) 223-1212.
“If we receive a report concerning illegal use of handicapped parking and we have officers available we will send someone out,” Hamblin says.