What happens if you illegally park in a disabled spot? Not enough, says Travis County advocate

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — The director of the program that allows Travis County volunteers to use a smartphone app to report people parked illegally in disabled parking spaces, says prosecutors are dismissing citations at a very high rate.

Mack Marsh of the Parking Mobility Program says this year, 70 citizen volunteers were recruited, took four hours of training on Handicap Parking laws and deputized.

When the volunteers see a vehicle parked illegally in a disabled parking spot, the program’s app allows them to take photos and send additional information to law enforcement for a possible citation.

County documents show since 2016:

  • 308 Volunteers have been trained on Accessible Parking Enforcement
  • 10,880 reports have been submitted by the volunteers for review by law enforcement
  • 3,932 resulted in citations for a parking infraction
  • 692 offenders were approved to take a disabled parking course.

“We would like the County Attorney to work to decrease dismissals and increase the number of people taking the class,” said Marsh.

The course is an online class for first-time violators to learn the rules and importance of accessible parking. Marsh says it’s crucial to the success of the program. “Over 6 years we have had 0% recidivism in the population of people taking the class. Contrast this with a more than 60% recidivism in those receiving a dismissal,” he said.

The County Attorney’s office tells KXAN there is an explanation for the dismissals. It estimates half if not more of the people issued a citation do have a handicap placard but didn’t have it displayed at the time. County prosecutors say once proof is provided, the case may be dismissed.

On October 1, 2019 Travis County commissioners voted to continue the program.

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