Able-bodied drivers illegally parking in handicapped spaces is a growing problem in Erie County.

According to surcharge data, the amount of tickets for handicap parking violations is up 36 percent since this time last year.

Law enforcement officials say a majority of offenders park in spaces without a tag, while some use a tag not issued to them.

They're advising motorists to consider those who really need the spaces before using them, and warn that officers will be cracking down on violators.

"If we find that the permit holder is not an occupant, we will be seizing that permit and returning it to the municipality that issued it. It will be up to that municipality to decide if it will re-issue the permit or any other penalties associated with it,” said Scott Joslyn, Erie County Sheriff's Office chief of patrol.

First-time offenders can pay more than $100 for illegally using a handicap space.