Handicap parking permits: Police keep a lookout for drivers using fake handicap parking placards

Drivers admit to falsifying permits for good spots

BOCA RATON, Fla. - It's a challenge every driver must face - searching or a parking spot as close to the store or work as possible. Most of us just want the convenience of a good spot.

John Bennardo actually needs one.

"I had cancer when I was 16 and needed a knee replacement, so I've had a handicap tag for 30 years," said Bennardo.

When John parks to go to work at Lynn University, he has noticed some permits look a little funny.

"Not everyone is legitimate. There are students using grandma's tag, it's frustrating. If I don't have a place to park, I have to walk much further, and so do many others," said Bennardo.

Turns out people are trying to beat the system all over Boca Raton. Police officer Bonita Marriott confiscates dozens of handicap parking placards every year. Some drivers borrow one from a family member, put on a fake expiration sticker or photocopy a placard and try to pass it for a real one.

She has a stack of phony placards that represent someone who broke the law and was slapped with a $250 fine.

"This isn't free parking, it's like a passport or a driver license. You wouldn't get on a plane with someone's passport," said officer Marriott.

Officer Marriott feels like the problem is easing a bit, but John says in his experience it's only getting worse.

"The more congested a parking lot gets, the more someone wants to beat the system and grab a handicap spot," said Bennardo.

More than a dozen police officers are roaming Boca Raton daily looking for fake permits.

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