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What Is Handicap Accessible Parking Abuse And How Can We Stop It?

While most people use handicap parking spaces legally with a valid disabled parking permit, there are still folks out there who perform handicap parking violations. This can be done in a range of ways, but mainly consists of people abusing the privilege of handicap accessible parking spaces. As frustrating as this can be, there are some actions you can take to report and end these types of violations. Here’s some helpful information on what defines a handicapped parking space and what you can do to stop permit abuse.

What is a handicap parking place?

Designated disabled parking places are set aside for individuals who have a specific medical condition that makes mobility difficult for them, as well as a special parking permit. These spots are positioned in key places in public parking lots at businesses, retailers, office buildings, etc., at the most convenient and accessible locations to make it easy for disabled individuals to access. The parking places are generally marked with blue paint and have a symbol of a wheelchair either printed directly on the ground or on posted signs.

Anyone who has a legitimate parking permit (obtained by going through the full application process with their state’s Department of Motor Vehicles) is allowed to park in these spaces. Parking in a handicap spot without a permit could lead to a ticket and/or a fine.

Dr. Handicap - handicap parking lot view
Image by Robert Ruggiero on Unsplash: Handicap parking places are typically marked with blue paint and a wheelchair symbol.

What is handicap accessible parking abuse?

Disabled parking abuse occurs whenever anyone is misusing a handicap placard or parking without a placard at all. Anytime someone breaks the rules of the road or doesn’t abide by parking regulations, they’re abusing handicap parking privileges.

An individual is breaking the law if they:

Park in a handicap spot without a permit

Handicap spots are designated for disabled individuals and should only be used when a disabled person is a driver or a passenger of that specific vehicle. Parking in a handicap parking place without a permit clearly displayed is expressly prohibited.

Borrow someone else’s parking permit

Each permit is officially issued to a specific individual and cannot be lent out to anyone else (including friends or family). A handicap parking space can only be occupied if the disabled person is a driver or passenger of that particular car.

Use an expired or invalid handicap permit

Disabled parking permits have strict expiration dates on them. Individuals can be ticketed or fined if they try to use an expired or invalid permit.

Use a fraudulent permit

Any type of counterfeit or fake parking permit is against the law and should never be used to park in a handicap accessible parking space.

What can you do to stop parking abuse?

There are several ways to stop parking abuse from taking place. Here’s a list of how to report handicapped parking abuse:

Check your assumptions before reporting anyone

Before you report a possible handicap parking violation, keep in mind that you might not be able to tell if a person is disabled just by looking at them. Some individuals have what are called “hidden disabilities”, meaning their medical condition doesn’t have outward symptoms that are obviously noticeable, and they don’t require assistance in walking (such as with a wheelchair or cane).

Try to remember that you won’t always know if someone is using a handicap parking place illegally because you won’t be able to tell if they have a legitimate need for a parking permit.

Call law or parking enforcement

If you’re sure that someone is using a disabled parking space without a valid permit, contact your local law enforcement. Avoid using 911, as this isn’t an emergency situation.

By contacting local officials or a parking enforcement agency, you can offer the location of the parking place, along with information about the vehicle in question (like the make and model of the car and the license plate number). It’s typically not necessary for you to stay until law enforcement arrives – unfortunately, sometimes these types of calls cannot be prioritized.

Call city hotlines

Some cities have specific hotlines you can call to report parking issues, including handicap parking abuses. Make sure to have relevant information about the vehicle in order to help report possible illegal parking violators.

Dr Handicap - using phone in car
Image by Alexandre Boucher on Unsplash: You have the option of calling law enforcement or parking hotlines to report handicap parking abuses.

Check with the DMV

Many DMV offices have designated departments that focus on handicap parking abuse. If you’d like to report a person who is parked illegally (especially if they do this often) or a person who is using a fraudulent or expired placard, you can reach out to your local DMV branch to make a formal complaint.

Report illegal parkers online

Because government agencies like local police and the DMV can be notoriously slow to act, you might want to take another avenue of reporting. HandicappedFraud.org allows you to submit a complaint directly on the website, and then the relevant information is handed over to state agencies like the DMV. All you need is the address of where the complaint occurred, the date, the car’s license plate, and the placard number (if they have a placard at all). This can be a great option if you want to submit a complaint quickly and easily.

Remember that it’s best to never get into any type of confrontation with a person you suspect is parking illegally. In the past, these kinds of altercations have even led to violence. If you feel reporting the individual is necessary, try one of the above steps instead of approaching the person directly. It’s a much safer option to just let law enforcement handle the situation.

Although handicap parking abuses occur all the time, there are some steps you can take to combat them. Just remember to always use your own handicap parking permit appropriately, and you’ll be able to protect the privilege of handicap parking.

Featured image by Leonardo Lameu on Unsplash

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