Handicap Hoax

WSVN — Right now, more than 15 million (15,378,206) people have a Florida drivers license. Right now, 1.4 million (1,425,612) people in Florida have a handicapped parking permit. Elle Fruchtman: "That is a lot of stickers. Now the question is how many handicapped people are there?"Good question. Lets go to an expert to get the answer.Arthur Noriega: "There's just so much fraud and abuse that is tough to catch a significant portion of it."Arthur Noriega is the head of the Miami Parking Authority where they fine people up to $250 for illegally using a handicapped space, and there are plenty of people illegally using the spaces.We just spent a few hours to see if people who park in handicapped spaces may not be handicapped.Watch this guy with a handicapped card park his car and stroll into the gym.Maybe this guy parked in the space picking up cases of water has a handicap or maybe not. Or this fellow, who parked in a handicapped space to fix his work truck.This young lady parked in a handicapped space and had a permit. We wanted to talk to her, she didn't want to talk to us.People who truly have handicaps say they see abuse all the time.Elle Fruchtman: "I'm telling you it's a problem people are abusing."So many people who park in the handicapped spaces truly have a reason to be there, but all too often a person using this space shouldn't be there.Elle Fruchtman: "I think its terrible. Its very upsetting it is."Elle is permanently disabled but it doesn't deter her.Elle Fruchtman: "Do you also have a narrow lens that will make me thinner."We took Elle for a ride. It didn't take long for her to spot the problems she sees when she goes out. Like this driver parked in the handicapped space.Elle Fruchtman: "I think she is just waiting for somebody."She was. This fellow who did have trouble walking.Elle Fruchtman: "It's infuriating when I see a space like this that is occupied by a non-handicapped person. It infuriates me."Elle says while the driver sat there, it took the space from a driver like her.Elle Fruchtman: "Leave it to somebody who really needs it."If you watch Elle walk, you see how difficult it is for her. But she is very independent and being able to park in a handicapped space close to a store allows her to still run her errands. Patrick Fraser: "I guess the handicapped parking makes it easier for you to stay independent. Elle Fruchtman: "Yes, absolutely."Now granted, some people who park in a handicapped space may have a hidden handicap like a heart condition. But many people who park in the spaces are healthy and according to Noriega, odds are they bought or borrowed the sticker.Arthur Noriega: "I know they get resold, pass down to other family members and friends, and so those individuals that end up being the end user."Patrick Fraser: A friend loaned us this permit for the story. His mother passed away. Since the cards are good for four years, he could have used it. He is honest and wouldn't do that but many people do. Or they have a temporary injury, like a foot problem. They heal but they keep using the permit. And there is another reason people grab these to save money."Arthur Noriega: "We created almost a black market for them."That's because in many places if you have a handicapped parking permit you don't pay for parking.Arthur Noriega: "And now you can park everyday for free, so in essence now you have free parking on a facility your saving yourself $200 a month."Of course the most common reason people park illegally park in the handicapped spaces, they are lazy.Arthur Noriega: "Young people pull in and they are in a hurry and you don't find a handicapped space."That makes it tough for Cecile's husband Irvin.Irvin: "Once in awhile there is an abuser. 60 to 70 percent of the time we find a spot, but I am able to walk with the cane so I don't mind it."Irvin doesn't mind if he has to walk a little farther, but if someone illegally takes his space it does bother Noriega.Arthur Noriega: "It shows a real lack of consideration for everybody else, and I know there are people out there that don't have much of a conscience and they really don't care."The people who abuse the handicap spaces don't care about these people who need the parking spaces.Arthur Noriega: "People who are so arrogant, who think they can have that parking space because they have the sticker that's wrong, and they are wrong."When you start to take the space, remember the face that needs this place.

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