Handicapped woman wins blizzard parking-ticket battle
By Donna Vickroy firstname.lastname@example.org May 12, 2011 7:38PM
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM
Beverly resident Susan Wills won her battle against a parking ticket she received during this year’s blizzard on a technicality, but didn’t mind one bit.
She called the court reversal she was handed Thursday, “a victory for the disabled.”
But Calumet Park Police Chief Mark Davis preferred to call it a bad day for justice.
“Maybe now the village of Calumet Park will not prey on the handicapped,” Wills, 60, said, after learning the parking ticket had been tossed out of court.
But Davis countered that Wills won because of human error, not because she was in the right.
“She was guilty as hell and she knows it,” Davis said. “She was just lucky to get off on this.”
Back on Feb. 5, just three days after the Chicago area was blanketed with 20 inches of snow, Wills received a ticket for parking illegally in a village supermarket lot.
She said one-fourth of the parking spaces at Ultra Foods, 127th Street and Ashland Avenue, were covered in piles of snow and the remaining spots were hard to distinguish.
Wills, who suffers from osteoarthritis and walks with a cane, said she parked her handicapped-designated van on the striped area next to a designated handicapped spot because she couldn’t find an open handicapped space.
“Those were extreme circumstances,” she said. “Everyone was parking crazy, there was so much snow everywhere.”
When she exited the store, a $100 ticket was waiting for her.
She pleaded innocent during her first court appearance March 16 in Calumet Park. At a second court appearance in April, Cook County Circuit Judge Martin Coghlan ruled that her paperwork was not in order and set a May 12 court date.
During Thursday’s appearance, Coghlan discovered that the citation Wills was issued was not properly filled out. The arresting officer failed to write on the ticket the number of the municipal ordinance Wills had violated.
Coghlan then ruled in favor of Wills and ordered Calumet Park to refund the $296.54 she had incurred in charges.
Wills said, “I fought this because I want them to stop making money on the backs of the handicapped.”
Davis said, “I’ve never seen anything like it. But that’s how the system works. If you don’t cross all your T’s and dot all your I’s, you lose.”
He added that drivers should not take this case as a reason to believe it is legal to park on the striped area next to a handicapped parking space.
“We will still ticket people for that,” he said.