City needs tougher traffic fines

Published 1:54 am Wednesday, September 2, 2009

By Staff
Years ago, a character in a Bloom County comic strip offered this warning to an off-screen entity who parked illegally in a handicapped space:
Harsh, perhaps, but maybe the fictional Bloom County, like real-life Brewton, had ridiculously low fines for such illegal parking.
Last month Police Chief Monte McGougin proposed new fines for traffic violations — everything from illegally parking in a handicapped spot to parking on the sidewalk. Fines for those violations are already on the books, but they are so low that police officers don’t even enforce the rules.
The city council has not yet taken action on the new fines, after some argument about how officers would enforce them.
McGougin said officers would use discretion — not fining folks who park on the sidewalk during church services, for example.
But that practical purpose aside, what other acceptable reason could anyone possibly have to violate the ordinance?
What if you’re parked in the street, chatting with a friend, when an ambulance is trying to get by?
What if you’re parked in the blue zone next to a handicapped space, effectively keeping someone in a wheelchair from getting back in their car and driving away?
And perhaps nothing is more irritating than seeing a perfectly able-bodied person pull into that closest of handicapped spaces, get out, and waltz into a store.
The city needs to increase the fines for traffic violations, and the police department needs to enforce them.
Those poxes aren’t as easy to distribute these days.