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

Can You Wait In A Handicap Spot?

Handicap parking spaces offer disabled drivers an invaluable lifeline, enabling them to go where they want to go and to live life on their own terms. Every jurisdiction in the United States is obliged by law to have a certain number of disabled parking spaces; in parking lots, on streets, and at all public amenities.

Misuse and abuse of disabled parking facilities is an illegal act that can have a severely negative effect on the quality of life of disabled people and their carers. But often people misuse disabled parking facilities not out of malice, but out of ignorance. Not everyone is up to speed on the rules and regulations surrounding handicap parking infrastructure.

Can You Wait In A Handicap Spot?

Confusion sometimes exists around the right way to use disabled parking spaces. People often have questions such as… Can you ever wait or stop in a handicap spot? How long can you stay parked in a handicap spot? What happens if you park in a disabled spot without a permit? Can you park in a handicap spot if you stay in the car? When is it OK to park or hover your car in a disabled parking spot? Can you wait in a metered space if you have a handicap permit?

The answers to these questions, while not known by everybody, are actually quite clear-cut. Today we will discuss everything you need to know about when, and under what circumstances, you can wait in a handicap spot.

Dr Handicap - handicap parking sign
Image by IanDScofieldWriter on Pixabay: Handicap parking spots must be kept clear for use by handicap parking permit holders.

Can I Stop In A Handicap Spot?

Whether or not you can stop in a handicap stop depends entirely on whether you or a passenger in your vehicle, are the legal holder of a disabled parking permit.

If you, or any of your passengers, hold a disabled parking permit and you have the permit in the vehicle, then you are legally allowed to stop in a handicap spot.

How Long Can You Stay Parked In A Handicap Spot?

If you, or any of your passengers, is the holder of a valid disabled parking permit, you can stay parked in a handicap spot for an unlimited amount of time (or the amount of time specified on the parking sign).

What Happens If You Park In A Disabled Spot Without A Permit?

Parking in a handicap spot without a permit is illegal. Doing so is a misdemeanor offense and can result in various different types of legal punishments.

What Punishments Are Involved In Parking Or Waiting Unlawfully In Handicap Spots?

The punishments for parking illegally in a handicap spot range in severity. The most common punishments can include:

  • A fine of up to $1000 (average fines are in the $200– $500 range)
  • Having your vehicle towed
  • Points on your license
  • Jail time

Can You Park In A Handicap Spot If You Stay In The Car?

If you do not have a valid handicap parking permit in your vehicle that belongs to someone who is currently traveling in the vehicle, then you cannot park in a handicap spot, even if you stay in the car.

When Is It OK To Park Or Hover Your Car In A Disabled Parking Spot?

It is only ever OK to use a handicap spot, either to park in or to hover in, when you or a passenger has their valid handicap parking permit with them in the vehicle.

Dr Handicap - car towed
Image by PIRO4D on Pixabay: A vehicle can be towed for parking illegally in a handicap parking spot.

How Can You Get A Handicap Parking Permit?

The easiest way to get a disabled parking permit is to arrange an online consultation with a licensed medical professional in your state through Dr. Handicap. Dr. Handicap is a fully HIPPA-compliant telemedicine clinic that helps disabled patients get online access to licensed doctors.

Once the examining doctor verifies that your disability qualifies you for a disabled parking permit, they will fill in the relevant paperwork and help you to access your state’s disabled parking program. It is a fast and simple process.

What Are The Qualifying Conditions For A Handicap Parking Permit?

The most common list of qualifying conditions for a handicap parking permit are:

  • Not being able to walk 200 ft without needing to stop to rest.
  • Not being able to walk without the aid of a prosthetic device such as a cane, crutch, wheelchair, or another person.
  • Heath disease.
  • Lung disease.
  • Legal blindness.
  • Oxygen tank usage.
  • A neurological, arthritic, or orthopedic condition that curtails mobility.

Featured image by gregroose on Pixabay