What Should You Do If You See Someone Parked Illegally In A Disabled Parking Spot?
As someone with a handicap parking placard, it’s likely that you respect the regulations that have been put into place. But what should you do if you spot someone who’s not following these rules? It can be frustrating to just sit by and watch as someone illegally parking in a disabled parking place when you know how essential those close parking places can be to a disabled person. So what should you do if you see someone parked illegally in a disabled parking spot? Here are some tips on how to handle the situation.
Who Is Eligible For Disabled Parking?
First, before you report anyone, you should keep in mind that many people who have handicap parking permits have what are called “hidden disabilities”. These individuals have conditions (many of them chronic) in which they might appear outwardly healthy, but are actually suffering from debilitating symptoms. For example, it might not be obvious to bystanders why a person with a cardiac condition or asthma needs a handicap parking permit, but they do often have symptoms that make it difficult for them to walk long distances.
Some people are used to seeing individuals in wheelchairs, or using assistive devices like a cane or walker, get out of cars parked in disabled parking places. Usually, people do not question these individuals’ right to a closer parking place. However, those with less outwardly visible disabilities (including conditions like autism, multiple sclerosis, and lupus) also have perfectly good reasons for needing a disabled parking permit. Remember that if someone has a handicap parking placard but doesn’t appear “unhealthy”, they could still have a very valid reason for needing to park in a disabled spot.
How To Report Misuse Of Disabled Parking
If you see someone parking in a handicap parking place without a proper placard, you might want to consider taking some action. Of course, it’s always possible that the person forgot to place their handicap placard on their rearview mirror. But, if you’d still like to report the person, there are some steps you can take.
In many cities, it’s recommended that you call the local authorities to report a handicap parking violation. You can provide the operator with the location of the vehicle, along with a description of both the driver and the car. They’ll also most likely ask for the vehicle license plate number. If possible, use your smartphone to take photographs of the car in case you need to substantiate any of your claims.
Hopefully, law enforcement will be able to quickly dispatch an officer to the location – although it is important to note that some cities don’t have the resources to do this every time such a call comes in. If you’re able to remain at the location and law enforcement does arrive, try to give the officer as much information as possible. If the offender is still at the scene, the officer can talk with them and, if necessary, issue a ticket or monetary fine (which can be as high as several hundred dollars). If the violator is no longer at the scene, officers might be able to follow up and issue a ticket and fine at a later time.
Some cities have specific parking enforcement hotlines where you can call and report someone misusing a handicap parking place. These hotlines can assist you, and from there, they’ll issue an officer to follow up on the possible illegal parking. If your town doesn’t have a hotline and you’re not comfortable calling the police, you also have the option of calling your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office. Most states have specific departments that are designated to investigate the misuse of handicap parking permits. The DMV will likely give you a form to fill out to report what you observed.
Other Places To Submit A Disabled Parking Complaint
Another great way to report an illegal parker is to head to the HandicappedFraud.org website. The site allows you to submit a disabled parking complaint by entering the address where the offense occurred (including the city and state). The site then submits the information to the proper state’s authorities, who can follow up with an investigation. You can also view reports on the site that list recent offenders and which cities they took place in. This can help you see if there are any repeat offenders or issues in specific parts of your town (like at the busiest retail locations).
Remember: it’s never a good idea to confront someone you think is parking illegally in a handicap parking place. Trying to reprimand or accuse an individual can often lead to aggressive or hostile encounters. There have even been instances of violence when these conversations escalate. It’s perfectly fine for you to report when you think someone is misusing their placard or is parking without one, but it can be dangerous to get overly involved in the situation without the help of law enforcement on your side.
So, the takeaway is to call your local police or DMV to ask what the best course of action is if you want to report someone for illegally parking in a disabled parking spot. Stay observant, get the vehicle information, and then let the proper authorities officially take care of the problem. Getting these people cited and fined means you’ll be discouraging them from parking illegally in the future – which means there will be more handicap spots available to those who need it!
Featured image by Vincent Ghilione on Unsplash