How People Are Fighting Back Against Illegal Parking in Disabled Parking Spots

Dr.Handicap - handicap parking sign

If you’re someone with a disability who needs a handicap parking permit, you’ll definitely understand how crucial it can be to have enough disabled parking spots available at a business or retail location. When people park illegally in these places (i.e. without a legitimate handicap parking placard), it can force those who actually need those spots to park further away. Some people might even have to leave without parking if they can’t make the situation work. However, there are some people who are taking steps to fight back against those illegal parkers.

In an interview with The Mighty, a mother from Alabama named MaryEllen Pollard has decided not to take this type of offense laying down. Instead of merely becoming frustrated by people parking in disabled parking spots without a proper permit or license plate, Pollard has developed her own “ticket” to place on people’s cars. The parking violation ticket was designed to look as close to a real parking ticket as possible. It says:

Please check one:

  • I’m in a hurry
  • I’m afraid of exercise
  • I’m better than everyone else
  • I just don’t care

Then, at the bottom of the ticket, it says, “There’s no good excuse – it’s the wrong thing to do and it’s against the law! Please respect blue spaces!”

Dr Handicap - ticket on car

Pollard decided to create the homemade tickets when her son started preschool. It was around this time that the family received their first handicap parking placard because of his disability. Nearly every morning when Pollard would arrive at her son’s school, all of the disabled parking spots would already be taken – by non-permitted cars! This meant that Pollard had to find suitable parking elsewhere in the lot where she could maneuver her son’s wheelchair in and out. All of the hassle resulted in her son often being late to school.

She says, “I wrote down the usual excuses people gave me and came up with my own ‘ticket.’ I wanted it to look like a real ticket as much as possible so it would get their attention.”

Pollard is often appalled at the excuses that people offer when parking illegally. “Everyone always says, ‘I was just going in for a minute.’ But they never took the time to think that their minute meant families like mine had to wait for them,” she says. Pollard hopes that someone seeing the “ticket” on their car will actually encourage them to think twice about parking illegally again in the future.

However, there are some people who think Pollard’s strategy might not necessarily be the right one. Other members of the disabled community suggest Pollard’s “ticket” include the excuse, “I forgot my permit today.” They note that some individuals might very well be deserving of the spot, but simply forgot to hang up their handicap parking placard before leaving their vehicle. Since many people suffer from “hidden disabilities” that aren’t outwardly visible to everyone, they shouldn’t be shamed for parking in a space that they need. That’s why it’s so important to always carry your handicap parking placard with you when you venture out, so you can display it in whatever car you’re riding in.

Dr. Handicap - parking place faded

Some other people note that it can be dangerous to try to confront someone who has illegally parked in a handicap parking place (even if it’s just handing them a fake ticket). Many people can become aggressive – there are even reports of individuals turning violent during these confrontations. If you’d like to avoid this, there are several steps you can take if you’d like to see some consequences for a person parked illegally, instead of taking matters into your own hands where the situation could escalate.

One option is to contact the local police department and give them the make, model, and license plate number of the car that was parked illegally. The police can then investigate from there to see if the offender was truly unlawfully parked in a disabled parking spot. Some officers will make sure the person is cited and fined, in hopes of deterring them from parking illegally in the future. If you frequent a specific business or location, and you see people parking illegally often, you can ask to speak to the manager or owner and request that they contact law enforcement to get the issue resolved. They’ll likely want to help so they don’t lose your business (since you might have to stop spending money there if you can’t find a space to accommodate you!). There also might be a separate phone number you can call if your area has specific parking enforcement officers. These officers can also ticket offenders and help to better enforce proper parking regulations.

If you decide to print up your own “tickets” to place on people’s cars, just bear in mind that you might have some negative interactions with people. Some will insist you just mind your own business (and they might have a few choice words for you!). However, if your goal is to remind people how important it is to leave the spots open for people who really need them, then the “ticket” tactic might be one solution. Just remember to always keep your own handicap parking placard in view when you park, so others don’t mistake you for an illegal parker!