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July 03, 2021

Drivers who skirt rules on disabled parking increasingly under fire

A jump in the number of able-bodied drivers parking in disabled-only spots has some people wondering if it's time to make the punishment more than a simple $400 fine.

Perfectly healthy people often use permits belonging to disabled family members, hang on to them after the holder has died or no longer needs it or simply forge them.

And it's not just about parking closer to the door. Many jurisdictions give disabled permit-holders free parking or at least the right to stay at a parking meter longer than those who don’t have them – making them a valuable and often abused perk.

Parking control officers are often reluctant to challenge drivers on whether or not they’re really disabled. But that seems to be changing, according to the Ottawa Citizen.

Ottawa bylaw officials have ramped up efforts to root out people using fake permits to park in disabled spaces. However, the crackdown has also created disputes between bylaw officers and those who have legitimate licences.

It's hard to know. Just because you don't see any visible disabilities, it doesn't mean the person is breaking the law. It could be a disability like asthma, or a severe heart condition. But, often, they're simply cheats.

If you feel the need to do something, then Parking Mobility, a mobile app that allows users to report cars that are illegally parked in accessible spaces might be the answer.

The user uploads a series of photos — the licence plate, the front windshield showing there isn’t a placard, a shot showing the parking spot. Add to that a GPS and time stamp to show where the infraction took place and you have a report ready for the city’s parking authority – assuming they’re wired accordingly.

Is illegal parking in disabled-only spots a big issue in your city? What do you do when you see someone you think is gaming the system? Or is it none of your business?

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...