This holiday season, those in Illinois and beyond will likely be rushing to check off everything on their to-do lists. Preparing for parties, dinners and gift-giving means spending a lot of time shopping, and nothing can be more frustrating when one is in a hurry than circling a crowded parking lot looking for a place to park. However, drivers who are tempted to slip into an empty space reserved for drivers and passengers with handicaps may find themselves facing the penalties for traffic violations.

Police across the state have announced their intentions to enforce handicap parking restrictions this holiday season to prevent able-bodied drivers from taking spaces others may need. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires merchants to reserve spaces nearest to the building for those who may have difficulty walking or who use a wheelchair. To utilize these spaces, a driver or passenger must have special license plates or a temporary placard, which is assigned to an individual, not to a vehicle.

One of the most common violations of handicap parking is the improper use of a placard. This may include altering the expiration date or using someone else’s placard for access to a convenient parking space. Consequences for these violations can include hundreds of dollars in fines and a six-month license suspension.

Any traffic violations can have long-lasting repercussions, especially if it means the loss of one’s driving privileges or points on one’s driving record. Illinois drivers may be tempted to pay the fine and move on, especially if they are focused on holiday preparations. However, seeking counsel from an attorney may result in a more positive resolution to the situation.