by Gary Hompland, Regional Conservation Officer
Question: "I'm in a wheel chair and have had a wonderful time this spring fishing the Oster Lakes at the Hagerman Wildlife Management Area. I have discovered non-handicapped folks often parking in the handicapped parking area. When they do this it prevents me from accessing the handicapped fishing pier. Is it unlawful for non-handicapped anglers to park in areas designated for handicapped persons?
Answer: Yes, it is unlawful as well as unethical.
Idaho law in part says É Parking a vehicle in space reserved for a person with a disability, when the space is signed properly, is prohibited unless the vehicle is parked temporarily to assist a person with a disability or unless the vehicle has handicapped license plates or a handicapped placard is displayed.
The law goes on to say the registered owner of a vehicle parked in violation of this law is guilty of an infraction, punishable by a fine of one hundred dollars ($100). Vehicles parked in violation of this section may also be towed pursuant to provisions of state law or local ordinance.
The handicapped fishing pier you refer to was built in 1992 by employees at the Hagerman National Fish Hatchery. Their intent was to provide a wheel chair accessible area for handicapped anglers. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game manages the area and has added some handicapped parking and wheel chair access to restrooms.
Thank you for pointing out this concern. We will watch for abuses during this fishing season.
Reference Idaho Code 49-213(2).
If you have any further questions you may call the Magic Valley Regional Office of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game at (208)324-4350 or e-mail us at the Fish and Game web site at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov.