Photos clear man who parked in disabled parking space in Aspen |

Photos clear man who parked in disabled parking space in Aspen

ASPEN – By his own admission, Aspen Municipal Judge Brooke Peterson doesn’t cut much slack when it comes to motorists who park illegally in disabled spots.

But Wednesday, Peterson did just that when he suspended the $100 fine Mark Thomas faced for parking in a disabled space on Monarch Street just north of the alley than runs behind Carl’s Pharmacy.

Peterson’s reasoning? Thomas provided photographic evidence showing the handicap sign is blocked by tree leaves and branches.

“This is quite unusual for me to do this,” Peterson said, “but it appears there is some obstruction.”

Thomas came to court armed with several photos he took of the parking space in question. Thomas said that on June 26 he went into Carl’s to buy some iced tea; when he returned he found a ticket on his car window for parking in a handicap spot. The ticket was issued by Aspen parking officer Ginny Stewart.

“This was not willful disobedience of the law,” Thomas told the judge. “I just could not see the signs.”

The judge determined Thomas’ excuse was good enough to waive the fine, provided Thomas doesn’t get a parking ticket in the next 90 days.

In other developments Wednesday in municipal court:

• Mark Harrison Sarver was put on probation for not wearing a helmet at the Aspen skateboard park. Peterson lectured Sarver that if he’s seen again sans headgear, he’ll be banned from the park.

“If you’re caught again without a helmet on, 5 seconds, 7 minutes, whatever, I will ban you from the park. Do not let it happen again.”

Police ticketed Sarver last month. It was at least the second time he had been cited for not protecting his head at the skateboard park, a city-run venue that requires all boarders to wear helmets.

“As far as skateboarding there goes, there are a lot of little kids, and I expect everybody there to be a role model,” the judge told Sarver.

• Aspen rugby player Ryan Nichols was ordered to pay $25 instead of the full $50 fine for parking in a no-parking zone by Rio Grande Park. Nichols, who was cited June 16, told Peterson that he was running late for rugby practice and parked illegally so he could run out some equipment for his teammates.

When he returned five minutes later, he was ticketed by parking officer Jan Holloway.

Peterson, while cutting the fine in half, told Nichols not to park in the illegal spot again.

“We don’t have 5-minute rules, 2-minute rules, or any rules,” he said.

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