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More MS news articles for March 2004

Disabled Driver Fights Parking Ticket

Driver Suffers From Multiple Sclerosis

March 16, 2004

Some disabled drivers are angry over a parking ticket for parking outside the designated lines for a handicap space.

Annette Morehouse is fighting a ticket that she says punishes her for using a space that's designed to help her -- the hash marks next to the handicap parking space.

"I'm contesting the citation. The citation was issued in error," Morehouse said.

Morehouse has done so much research to fight a parking ticket, it fills up the kitchen table in her home. She received the citation at a disabled space at a Longs Drugs parking lot. She says a cart was blocking one corner.

"I put my placard up, and I realized that I parked crooked. It was just beginning to drizzle. It was dark, and I didn't want to run around with a basket, take the shopping cart and move it somewhere else," Morehouse said.

Morehouse has multiple sclerosis, which -- she says -- makes walking difficult and keeps her off balance.

After buying medicine, she says she returned to her car a found she had a ticket.

"$345, you know, because I parked crooked? Because I didn't want to get out and move a basket? Excuse me!" Morehouse said.

A sheriff's photo of her car clearly shows her car over the line into the area that's supposed to be used as extra space for devices like wheelchairs. In this case, that area is adjacent to just the space she used, unlike some handicapped parking, where two spaces share one common middle area, and both might need it for wheelchairs.

But the Sacramento Sheriff's Department says there's a reason they ticket for encroachment into all of those spaces.

"If we were going to forgive a crosshatch on a single disabled space, that might give the impression among some people that it was allowed in other conditions. And then, we've really gone backwards and countered the intent of the Legislature by having the crosshatch rule in the first place," said Sacramento Sheriff Parking Enforcement spokesman Tom McAllister.

Morehouse is fighting the ticket on some technical issues and the intent of the law. The steep fines were designed to protect the disabled.

"Now, we've got somebody saying, 'Yeah, this is for you. But boy, if your tires touch the line, we are slapping you with a ticket,'" Morehouse said.

Morehouse says the ticket was the last straw for her. She gave away her car to use the bus and her new form of transportation -- a recumbent bicycle.

Morehouse has a hearing on Monday to appeal her ticket. Some of her friends from her multiple sclerosis support group are expected to be there to back her up.

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