Parking Permits for People with Disabilities
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?
Who is Eligible for a Permit?
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 meters, must use an assistive device or who are legally blind are also eligible for a permit.
If You Don't Have a Doctor
SPARC BC advises that they will accept their application form if it is certified by any professional who has a Physician MSP Number. This would include doctors, physiotherapists and occupational therapists. Doctors practicing at a walk in clinic could certify the form for you.
If you are dealing with an agency other than SPARC BC, you will have to ask them what their certification policy is.
Who Issues Disability Parking Permits?
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 BC. Other regional agencies around B.C. also issue disability parking permits:
- Cowichan Independent Living
- Nanaimo Disability Resource Center
- People in Motion - City of Kamloops and Thompson/Nicola Region
- Richmond Center for Disability
- SPARC BC - Province Wide
- Special Parking Permit - City of Kelowna
- Victoria Disability Resource Center
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.
Displaying Your Permit
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.
Paying for Parking
The safe assumption is that displaying a placard does not exempt you from having to pay for parking. Some municipalities will allow placard holders to park for free in public spaces but you need to check with the municipality or municipal bylaw to know for sure. I am unaware of any exemption from payment in a commerical or private parking lot where a fee is required.
What Happens if Permits are Abused?
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.
If You do Not Have a Disability
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.
Towing Offenders Away
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.
Use of Permits Issued in Other Countries
A valid permit issued outside of Canada may be used while you visit British Columbia.