March 17, 2004
The story of a disabled woman who is fighting what she calls an unfair parking ticket has generated a huge response from both sides of the issue.
Annette Morehouse, who has multiple sclerosis, 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.
But the problem is, where exactly do those spaces end? And do they include the hash-mark area next to them?
Morehouse received the citation at a disabled space at a Longs Drugs parking lot in Sacramento. She says a cart was blocking one corner, so she had to go into the space at an angle, covering part of the hash-mark area.
After buying medicine, she says she returned to her car and found she had a $345 ticket.
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.
Morehouse admits her tires were over the line, in the hash-mark area next to the parking space, but she says she always thought that hash-mark area was there for her to use.
Lt. Rick Carlson with the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department says that is a common misperception. He says a lot of disabled drivers think the hash marks are for them to park on, but that it's not true. Carlson says the hash mark space is for loading and unloading of wheelchairs.
Steve Schneider, who works for a company that makes wheelchair accessible vans, says that every inch of the hash mark area is necessary, especially when another car parks too close.
"I'm at risk of hurting myself, also scratching this vehicle and hurting my equipment, including my chair and the ramp," Schneider said.
Lauraine Beliveau's son uses a wheelchair, and she uses her van to get him around. She says she gets very upset when she sees someone parking on the hash marks, especially when it's another disabled driver.
"It's very frustrating. I guess people just don't realize that those hash-mark places are there for a reason," Beliveau said.
The Sacramento Sheriff's Department estimates it gives out 1,800 hash-mark tickets every year, and many of those tickets go to disabled drivers.
Morehouse has a hearing on Monday to appeal her ticket.
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