Those who park in handicapped parking areas without authorization - beware!

Response to a program allowing Salt Lake residents to inform on unauthorized people parking vehicles in spaces reserved for the handicapped has been good, said Salt Lake Community Affairs Director Stephanie Peterson.The community affairs office has received roughly 20 complaints in only the first two weeks of the month-old handicapped parking enforcement program, Peterson said.

And people are begging for more complaint forms, obtainable at the community affairs office. One local grocery store even asked for 50 of the forms.

The program is designed to educate people who park in handicapped zones without a state placard or special handicapped license plate.

Citizens finding unauthorized cars in handicapped zones can fill out a complaint form identifying the vehicle, its license number, the location and date of violation and send it to Peterson's office.

Community affairs then sends the offending driver a "friendly reminder" explaining how to get proper vehicle identification for handicapped drivers and how important handicapped parking spaces are for handicapped drivers.

The first letter to an offending driver does not include a citation, but the letter states that repeat offenders will be prosecuted, Peterson said.

The intent of the program is not to bring charges against offending drivers but to educate them and say "please don't do that," Peterson said.

"Everyone hopes that the first letter will make people aware," she added.