Are Police Allowed To Park In Handicap Spots?

One complaint that many users of disabled parking permits have is that sometimes people who aren’t entitled to use the spots use them anyway – even the police. Far too often, people assume that using a handicap parking spot because they’re in a hurry is OK, but what they don’t understand is how this impacts people who really need to using those spots.

So who can legally use handicap spots? What are the rules surrounding their use? Are police allowed to park in handicap spots? All of these questions and more are answered below – keep reading to learn all you need to know about handicap parking use and, in some cases, abuse.

Who Are Handicap Parking Spots For?

You see them almost everywhere: blue-and-white signs with the international symbol of access that denotes a parking space for someone with a handicap parking permit. Most people understand that these spaces are only for those people who possess the valid parking permit issued by the state in which they live. Still, it’s not uncommon to see someone taking the space even if they don’t possess the appropriate tag or license plate to do so.

Handicap parking spots are meant for drivers or passengers with conditions and disabilities that make it difficult to get around. These spaces help them to get more easily where they need to go and reduce stress.

If you do not possess a proper handicap license plate or a parking permit, it is illegal to park in a handicap space. Penalties for doing so will vary from place to place, but it almost certainly involves some form of a fine, which can get expensive fast.

police car in parking spot
Image by Kindel Media on Pexels: Can police park in disabled spots? Sometimes. Is it illegal to park in a disabled bay without a permit? Yes!

Are Police Allowed To Park In Handicap Spots?

Police are given a lot of latitudes when it comes to parking and driving in general, but the rules of handicap parking spots still apply to police cars. In an emergency, police are allowed to park in handicap spots and zones. However, police who are not responding to an emergency still must abide by the rules surrounding handicap parking spots, and are not allowed to park there when simply running errands or stopping for something not related to an emergency.

What Can You Do If Someone Is Parked In a Handicap Spot Illegally?

When you are disabled with a handicap parking permit or plate, not being able to find parking can be stressful. While you may not be able to make a space magically appear, you can ensure those who are parking in handicap spaces illegally are reprimanded.

To report a car that is parked illegally in a handicap spot, you should:

  • Gather information. Make sure the car doesn’t have a handicap plate or placard first. Not all disabilities are visible, and this is very important to keep in mind if you see someone exiting a car in a handicap spot who doesn’t look as if they have a disability. If you do determine the car is parked illegally, take down the license plate number and, in the case of someone abusing a parking placard, the number on the placard.
  • Call the non-emergency line. There is a non-emergency line for the police in your area, and that is the number you should use to report this incident.
  • Visit the police department. You can also physically go to a police department to make the report during normal business hours. You will provide a statement of the details and present any other evidence you have.
  • File a report online. In some places, you can file a report online to the local police or sheriff’s department. Check your local authorities’ website to see if that’s an option for you.

Hopefully, police will then take action to punish the person who is abusing the parking situation. In many places, fines of up to $1,000 can be incurred for these violations, and may even include being charged with a misdemeanor that can result in jail time.

Dr. Handicap - handicap parking lot view
Image by Robert Ruggiero on Unsplash: Parking in a handicap spot without a permit is illegal – no matter who you are!

Etiquette for Handicap Parking

When you do use a handicap parking permit or plate, make sure you’re aware of the standards of etiquette expected when using them, such as:

  • Awareness of different handicap spots. There aren’t laws that specifically outline what type of handicap spot you should use, but be aware of the limitations of the accessibility of others, even if it doesn’t apply to you. For example, you shouldn’t park in a spot designated for a van if you aren’t driving an accessible van or require a ramp to exit your vehicle. Try to use the space that is most appropriate for your individual needs.
  • Display your permit correctly. In most states, you will be required to display a handicap parking permit clearly and visibly when parking. This may mean it is hung from the rearview mirror or placed face-up on the dashboard of the vehicle.
  • Access aisles should be open. Do not park in the cross-hatched access aisles beside disabled parking spots. They are there to give those in wheelchairs easier access to their vehicles.

Featured image by Matt Popovich on Unsplash

The 3 Different Types Of Disabled Parking Spaces

Disabled parking spaces are vital things. To millions of disabled Americans, handicap parking spaces are invaluable lifelines they simply couldn’t get by without.

Disabled parking spaces ensure a core human right that is essential to wellbeing: equal access to the amenities throughout our country. We are all in this together, and disabled parking spaces enable those of us who lack mobility to partake fully in society.

Handicap parking spaces are rightly recognized as crucially important by jurisdictions and citizens all across America. Their upkeep and proper usage is always a high priority, and they are strictly regulated and protected by federal law.

New disabled permit holders might not know much about disabled parking spaces. They may have questions such as: Are there different types of handicap parking spaces? What are the different types of disabled parking space and how should each be used? How can you recognize the difference between the different types of disabled spaces? Does my disability, type of permit, or the vehicle I’m traveling in limit the type of space I can use?

Let’s answer these questions right now.

Are There Different Types Of Disabled Parking Spaces?

Yes, there are three different types of disabled parking spaces in America. The reason there are three types is so the disabled parking program can serve the widest possible group of disabled parking permit holders. The aim is for all disabilities and all vehicle types to be catered for.

Dr. Handicap - Blue Handicap Parking Sign
Image by arembowski on Pixabay: There are three different types of disabled parking space.

What Are The Different Types Of Disabled Parking Spaces?

The three different types of disabled parking space are:

  • Accessible parking spaces for cars
  • Accessible parking spaces for vans (one-sided entry)
  • Accessible parking spaces for vans (two-sided entry)

What Law Regulates Disabled Parking In America?

The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) is the federal law that regulates disabled parking spaces in America. The law covers the types of spaces, their dimensions, the number of spaces there should be in any area, and the positioning and placement of spaces.

How Can You Tell The Difference Between The Different Types Of Disabled Spaces?

Accessible parking spaces for cars are for standard vehicles without a wheelchair ramp or lift. These spaces are marked by the International Symbol of Access (blue and white wheelchair symbol). They have at least a 60-inch-wide aisle to allow a person in a wheelchair room to enter and exit the vehicle.

Accessible parking spaces for vans (one-sided entry) are for vehicles that have a ramp or lift. These spaces are marked with the International Symbol of Access and have a striped access aisle on the driver’s side that is at least 96 inches wide.

Accessible parking spaces for vans (two-sided entry) are similar to those with one-sided entry. The only difference is that they have an access aisle on both sides.

How Can You Know Whether Parking In A Certain Space Is Appropriate For You?

The right parking space depends on whether or not the vehicle you are driving has a ramp or lift, and who is traveling in the vehicle at the time in question. If your vehicle has a side door with a ramp or lift, then you will need to use a van space. The lift or lamp is the pertinent issue, as more space is required to enter and exit a vehicle using one of these devices.

If you are a wheelchair user who does not use a ramp or lift, then you can use a car space, because the 60-inch-wide aisle will be enough. Whether you are traveling in a car, van, or SUV, these spaces will be large enough provided you will not be using a ramp or lift.

If your vehicle has a ramp or lift on both sides, and passengers will be entering and exiting on both sides, you will need to use a van space with two-sided entry.

Dr Handicap - disabled parking sign on wall
Image by StephanieAlbert on Pixabay: How can you know which disabled parking space is right for you? It all depends on your vehicle.

How Many Disabled Spaces Are Parking Lots Required To Contain?

Under the ADA, all parking lots must contain disabled parking spaces, including at least one space for vans. The amount of mandatory disabled spaces increases with the size of the parking lot.

For example, smaller parking lots with 1–25 spaces must contain at least one accessible parking space for vans. For larger parking lots of between 501–1000 spaces, 2% of total spaces must be disabled, including 2–4 accessible parking space for vans.

How Do You Get A Disabled Parking Permit?

If you do not yet have a disabled parking permit, the easiest way to get one is to apply through Dr. Handicap. You’ll have a telemedicine consultation with a registered physician, who will examine you, recommend the type of disabled permit you will need, and provide you with a letter of recommendation.

Featured image by Binyamin Mellish on Pexels

What Are The Legal Requirements For A Handicap Parking Space?

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Can I Use A Disabled Parking Spot In An Emergency?