Q&A - Abuse of Disabled Parking Permits

Q&A ImageQUESTION: What should you do when you know that someone is abusing disability parking permits?

I reside in Vancouver and there is a resident in my building, who has a disabled parking pass hanging from her vehicle mirror. 

The problem that I have with this is that the permit was for her former husband, who was disabled, and passed away about 2 years ago.

She still uses the permit for her car, and is as healthy, and able, as are most drivers.

I have seen her park the car in a permit spot on Granville Island, on more than one occasion, and casually walk to the market.

This to me, is abuse of a permit, not issued to her in particular. Please advise me if there is a reason for her still using this permit.

The Law on Disability Parking Permits

Disabled persons (handicapped) parking permits are issued under the authority of Division 38 of the Motor Vehicle Act Regulations.

It is an offence to use a permit issued to someone else, even if you are disabled. The issuer of the permit could cancel it for such behaviour. 

Who Issues Parking Permits?

SPARC BC is probably the best known agency that issues these permits on behalf of ICBC but there are others, including People in Motion which issues permits for the City of Kamloops and Thompson/Nicola Region.

Notify the Issuing Agency of Abuse

You would have to advise the appropriate agency of the permit number that is being misused and ask them to take action. Since the permits are issued to the person and not the vehicle, reporting the licence plate of the offender will not be helpful. The details that you require are printed on the permit.

Example Permit

Here is an example of a permit issued by Cowichan Independent Living:

Handicap Parking Permits look like this one

It shows the organization's logo at the top left and the contact telephone number at the top right.

Disabilities are not Always Visible

While some people probably do abuse these permits I am always reminded in discussions about this that not all people who qualify to use the permits have a visible handicap.

Some 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).

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SPARC BC issues, to persons that qualify for a handicap parking permit, a placard and a wallet card.  The placard displays the permit number and expiry date. 

The wallet card displays the permit number and expiry date as well as the name and DOB of the person to whom the permit was issued.  If asked, the person displaying a handicap parking permit placard is expected to show their wallet card to verify that they are the person to whom the placard was issued.

One thing about handicapped parking which many including lot owners  don't know is marking the spots. I believe the law requires a sign indicating the restriction. A painted sign on the pavement is not adequate and many times the paint is worn. Many handicappers do not realize the sign issue.

Finally if there is no posted sign is it an offence for a non-posted vehicle to park there? I think it could be contested but what do I know!

Here is the sign for handicapped parking from the province's official sign manual:

handicapped parking sign

If an officer wants to issue a traffic ticket under the Motor Vehicle Act for a violation, this is the required marking.

Municipal bylaws are another consideration. As an example, the City of Vancouver calls them:

Accessible Parking Space means a Parking Space for the use of a person who has a loss, or a reduction, of functional ability and activity and includes a person in a wheelchair and a person with a sensory disability which includes visual impairment;

The Street and Traffic Bylaw says:

17.2 An owner, registered owner, lessee or operator of a vehicle must not cause, allow or permit that vehicle to stop:

(j) on any portion of street indicated by a sign or other marker as reserved for one or more class of vehicle, except for recognized vehicles of that class;

There does not appear to be a designated sign for this.

Finally we need to look at private property. This is up to the owner of the property and any reasonable indication that the spot is reserved for handicapped parking would be sufficient. It is their property and you accept their terms when you park on it.