Tim Schewe

Drivesmart column: Parking permits for people with disabilities

These permits are issued to the person, not the vehicle owner or driver.

By Tim Schewe

An article on the abuse of handicapped parking stalls by both users and the people who park next to them would be appreciated. I assume that the permit is issued to the person who is disabled. In many cases, the driver is not disabled. What are the regulations concerning the driver of a vehicle who is not handicapped and the use of the handicapped parking stall?

Based on a medical doctor’s recommendation, anyone with a permanent or temporary mobility impairment is eligible for a permit. People who need extra wide parking spaces in order to get in and out of their vehicle, or who cannot walk more than 100 metres, must use an assistive device or who are legally blind are also eligible for a permit.

The permit may be issued by a municipality or by an organization designated by a municipality to a person who qualifies as being disabled. In British Columbia, this is most often done by SPARC, the Social Planning and Research Council. Other regional agencies around B.C. also issue disability parking permits.

These permits are issued to the person, not the vehicle owner or driver. It may be used on any vehicle used for transport of that person, even if they do not drive or own it.

A disabled persons’ parking permit may be displayed by hanging it from the rearview mirror or by laying it on the dash in front of the driver’s position when the driver or a person who is a passenger in the vehicle has a disability. This entitles the use of a disabled zone for standing or parking only for the purposes of transporting the disabled person.

Issuing agencies will take action against those who misuse the permit. In order to do so, they suggest that you politely ask to see the person’s wallet card, which is issued to all who have a permanent disability. The person is not obligated to show you the card. Should they refuse, contact the agency with your explanation and the parking permit number. They will take appropriate action with regard to the permit.

Not all organizations that issue these permits give the holder a wallet card to go with the placard that hangs from the rearview mirror. In this case the person may not be refusing to show you, they many not be able to.

Vehicles that do not display a valid permit must not stop, stand or park in a handicap parking space. “Just for a minute” is not a justification.

Leaving sufficient space next to a vehicle displaying the permit is important as well. The striped area beside the space indicates room needed to deploy a wheelchair ramp needed to enter or exit the vehicle.

The owner of a parking lot may choose to have an improperly parked vehicle towed away. The vehicle owner would be responsible to pay the towing charges involved.

Police action is also a possibility. A traffic ticket may be issued to those who park in a disabled zone when not entitled, to those who use a disabled parking permit when they are not entitled to it and to those who loan the permit to another person, disabled or not.

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement. To comment or learn more, please visit DriveSmartBC.ca

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