After 36 years, Blake Scott has learned to live with his handicap - a handicap he developed shortly after birth.
What he hasn't learned to live with is inconsiderate people.Scott took his case before the Utah County Commission of Governments this month, asking that something be done to stop people who aren't handicapped from parking in handicapped zones and spaces.
"It's not just me I'm speaking for," said Scott, who suffers from partial paralysis on the right side of his body. "I'm speaking for everybody who has a handicap. I'm concerned for those who can't take advantage of the parking stalls."
Scott said many people don't realize the inconvenience handicapped people face when they're unable to take advantage of handicapped parking, especially during bad weather.
Scott's right leg is shorter than his left leg, and back injuries he has suffered as a result can be aggravated by too much walking.
"It's hard for me to understand why the public is not responding. I think it (enforcement of handicapped parking) would be a lot of help for the people I'm speaking in behalf of."
In Spanish Fork, where Scott lives, merchants don't want to enforce handicapped parking areas out of fear they'll offend shoppers, he said. But unless authorities plan to enforce handicapped parking, they might as well do away with it.
The problem with enforcement is that unauthorized use of handicapped stalls is a criminal action. As such, it is difficult to prosecute and prove, said Deputy Utah County Attorney Jeril Wilson.
Wilson said a possible solution would be adoption of a Salt Lake City program that makes abuse of handicapped parking a civil offense.
Under the program, any citizen can fill out a complaint form upon observing a violation. The form is sent to the city prosecutor's office, where a registration check is conducted to get the name and address of the vehicle's owner.
If no prior violations have occurred within the past year, a warning letter is mailed. If prior violations have occurred, a small-claims proceeding is instituted against the car's owner.
No second violations have been reported in Salt Lake since the program was instituted last summer, Wilson said.
"They're very pleased with it. It takes the police right out of it."
To work effectively, a similar program would have to be adopted by Utah County and county cities, he said. Wilson suggested that civil fines be steep, unless paid immediately.
Scott would welcome adoption of the program in Utah County, but would rather see the handicapped empowered to write tickets. "It would really be nice to see something like that go through."
Meanwhile, Scott said, misuse of handicapped parking will continue to be something he sees daily. "The thing is, I get tired of seeing people suffer."