A fiery debate has erupted in Dutchess County, NY over the legality of a very popular parking strategy.

"Please stop parking along the island in the Hyde Park Mall... You are blocking the handicapped spaces", began a recent post in a community Facebook group. The attached image showed the offending scenario (below), and many residents agreed about the inconvenience... but is the move illegal?

A Hyde Park, NY resident recently took to social media to ask drivers to stop parking along the island at the Hyde Park Mall... but is the move illegal?
A Hyde Park, NY resident recently took to social media to ask drivers to stop parking along the island at the Hyde Park Mall... but is the move illegal? (Google)
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Blocking Handicapped Spaces in Hyde Park, NY

"I never realized that but thanks for the input. It makes us all more aware", commented a conscientious driver. "It's not that serious. Learn how to drive and go back to Drivers Ed", quipped a less agreeable commenter. Soon, the focus shifted to legality.

From this angle, it becomes more apparent that cars parking along the island in Hyde Park, NY could easily block someone in a handicapped space
From this angle, it becomes more apparent that cars parking along the island in Hyde Park, NY could easily block someone in a handicapped space (Google)
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What New York State Law Says About Blocking Handicapped Spaces

While New York State law has clear language regarding the requirement to create accessible aisles on the side of handicapped parking spaces, there is nothing specifically covering accessibility behind them. One sentence, however, leaves the door open for some interpretation:

Can New York drivers be ticketed or towed for parking in this area in the Hyde Park mall?
Can New York drivers be ticketed or towed for parking in this area in the Hyde Park mall? (Google)
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Handicapped Parking in New York State

"Access aisles shall be clearly designated with conspicuous and permanently installed above grade signs which shall read 'No Parking Anytime'", reads Section 1203-C of New York State law. While the area behind the spaces is not included in the definition of "aisle", it stands to reason that if parking along the island is unwanted by the owners of the private parking lot, similar signage should be erected.

Read More: Hudson Valley Drivers: This Popular Move Could Cost You $450 

Fines for Blocking a Handicapped Parking Space in New York

Similarly to the lack of language regarding the full 360 degrees around a handicapped parking spot, fines for blocking handicapped spaces is also limited. Fines (up to $75 for the first offense and $150 for the second) are only issued for drivers who park in a handicapped parking space without a permit or who block the aisles next to the spaces (not behind).

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While this issue is clearly rampant (a quick Google Maps search shows multiple instances of drivers parking along this particular island), the duty to address the problem seems to fall on the shoulders of the property owners. Offenders should also be added to the list below.

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When was the last time that you took the scenic route or the back road? There's something so peaceful about taking in the views of the beautiful farmland and the smells of fresh grass with the windows down. 

The next time that you're out for a drive, take one of these scenic routes to capture the beauty of the area that we get to call home.



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Gallery Credit: Allison Kay