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High-Dollar Fine For 14-Inch Handicapped Parking Mistake

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A $500 fine for a 14-inch mistake. That’s what happened to a North Texas woman who pulled into a handicap parking spot, with a permit, and left the wheels of her vehicle over the line. But it’s the fine that that the driver says is way out of line.

Mom Therese Rockwell told CBS 11 News it’s a fine she never should’ve had to fight.

The striped lines near handicapped parking spaces are for people that need to load and unload wheelchairs. That’s what Rockwell says she used the space for, but crossing over the white line cost her plenty.

It’s not surprising that some disabled drivers have trouble staying inside the lines of what can sometimes be a narrow parking space. Rockwell was only 14 inches over the line when she parked outside a Wal-Mart with her disabled son Truman.

“Came out and I got a ticket announcing that I had parked incorrectly,” she recalled. “It just hurt me. I take care of my son 24/7. I’m parking what I think is correctly and now I’m ticketed for something I’m not even familiar with.”

Rockwell has a handicapped-parking permit and the stripes next to the spaces are for wheelchair access. So why would she face a $500 fine?

Pamela Ashford oversees parking for the City of Dallas. She explained that security companies, that often apply the law too harshly, patrol private parking lots.

“Once they get the basic training and understanding of the Dallas penal code they might become a little over zealous of the dos and don’ts of private property. Even though they’re right they’re wrong.”

Despite that knowledge city prosecutors initially refused to dismiss the citation and Rockwell had to go to court on August 6.

The North Texas mom said she went determined when she headed out to face the judge. “I was going to jail. I’m not going to pay for something that is clearly not explained.”

The idea of Rockwell behind bars upset her handicapped son, who was with her in court when the city finally agreed to drop the case.

But not every disabled parking permit holder is willing to fight similar cases, so many will pay the expensive fines.

City officials told CBS 11 that they would work with people who get tickets from security companies that may be legally valid but clearly unfair.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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