How to Deal with Confrontation If Someone Challenges Your Disabled Parking Permit

Dr. Handicap - people arguing

If you’ve had a disabled parking permit for a while, you might have noticed that some individuals can be judgmental or critical of your placard. If you have one of many “invisible disabilities,” you might even have been questioned as to whether you truly deserve a closer parking place. These types of interactions can be disheartening and frustrating. However, there are several ways you can handle confrontations like these without escalating the issue, but while still asserting your rights as a disabled parking permit holder.

You don’t need to engage.

The most important thing to remember is that you always have the option of walking away from someone who is challenging your handicap parking permit. You shouldn’t ever feel mandated to educate them about invisible disabilities or provide details about your personal medical information in order to placate them. The fact is you deserve your disabled parking permit because a licensed physician was able to attest to the fact that you have a disability and would benefit from closer parking places. If someone has an issue with your permit, that’s their problem. You’ll always have the knowledge that you obtained your permit correctly and have been authorized by your state to use it appropriately.

Dr Handicap - parking lot

You can explain your circumstances.

If you feel like it’s a safe situation to have a calm conversation with someone challenging you, that’s okay too. You might feel like it’s a good opportunity to educate someone about “hidden disabilities” so that they don’t continue to unfairly judge disabled individuals in the future. This might involve calmly explaining that invisible symptoms (which can occur with a variety of medical issues including asthma, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, etc.) are not always apparent to others, but are still serious enough to warrant a disabled parking permit. You can point out that even if someone doesn’t need a wheelchair or a cane, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t disabled or that they can’t still benefit greatly from having a more accessible parking place.

You can suggest they report your license plate.

This might seem like an out-of-the-box suggestion, but you can always recommend that the person report your license plate to the police. Because you know that you’ve obtained your handicap parking permit legally and are using it appropriately, it should be no problem for the police to verify your permit to the accuser. Authorities can easily report that you have every right to use your permit, and there’s no way you’ll face any recourse. In some cases, you suggesting this might make the person realize that you’re not intimidated by their accusations, because you know you’re not at fault. Some individuals who like to threaten people with calling the cops will back down if they realize you have no problem with them actually following through with this threat.

You can move away from an unsafe situation.

If your accuser is capable of having a conversation and can refrain from getting angry or yelling, then you can continue to speak with them. However, if at any point you feel that the confrontation is escalating, feel free to move away. Tell the person you don’t feel like the conversation is worth pursuing and calmly get in your car. It’s always good to stay level-headed and to leave before things get too heated. Remember: you don’t owe this person anything. If they can’t accept you having a disabled parking permit, it’s likely nothing you say will appease them. You can remove yourself from any situation when a person is becoming heated or is saying hurtful or abusive things.

You can get the authorities involved.

It’s always a good idea to get authorities involved if you begin to feel unsafe in any situation. There have been instances where confrontations over parking places have led to fighting and sometimes even violent acts. If you’re having a conflict with someone and you don’t think you can exit the situation safely, it’s fine for you to call your local police department (or dial 911 if it’s a true emergency). Police are trained to deescalate situations, so they’re the perfect people to call in this instance. It’s also good to have them on the scene if the other party is getting abusive (verbally or physically) so that they will be alerted to the problem or so that you can press charges if absolutely necessary. If the situation is becoming out of control, police are much better equipped to handle it than you are – they’re the ones who can protect you.

The most critical aspect to remember if confronted about your disabled parking permit is to try to stay safe the whole time. You won’t be able to steer clear of all confrontations, but the way you handle them can make a world of difference. Instead of getting defensive and angry, remember that you’re in the right and you have nothing to prove to anyone. You’ve been lawfully given a handicap parking permit because of a medical condition, and it truly doesn’t matter if anyone else has a problem with this fact. Try to remain calm when confronted by accusers who are trying to invalidate your health problems and your permit. If you don’t feel able to have a conversation with the person (or don’t think you should have to), you always have the option of getting in your vehicle and removing yourself from the situation. Call authorities if you ever feel your safety is being jeopardized, and keep in mind that sometimes people are just ignorant or are out to pick a fight. You don’t need to engage or escalate things. You can remain safe in the knowledge that you’re absolutely using your disabled parking permit correctly – and that’s really all that matters.