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Posted at 6:56 PM ET, 09/23/2010

Who deserves a handicapped parking permit?

By washingtonpost.com editors

By Susan Nuñez,
Springfield

Regarding John Kelly’s Sept. 23 Metro column “Lost car as vehicle for soul searching”:

Ace Rosner thinks like I do: Disabled-parking spaces are not for those who get tired or don’t want to be inconvenienced. Despite his age (93) and apparent physical disabilities (he lost an arm in World War II), this gentleman admitted guilt and paid his parking fine (without whining!) when he could not produce a handicapped permit, even though most people would think that he merits one.

Those reserved spaces make a huge difference for people with genuine disabilities who otherwise might not be able to enjoy their outings. As an occasional usher at the D.C. Shakespeare Theatre’s matinees, I can verify that a surprising portion of the audience uses walkers or other mobility assistance devices, so those reserved spaces are valuable. Taking up a spot outside the supermarket because you’re just running in quickly defies the qualifying definition of the spaces, don’t you think?

My sister and I have so far refused to apply for handicapped parking tags, despite being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (and she’s legally blind, too). We’re just grateful that we can walk the extra 50 feet into a building.


By washingtonpost.com editors  | September 23, 2010; 6:56 PM ET
Categories:  D.C., HotTopic, health care, police, taxes, transportation  
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Comments

The article in the Post caught my eye. It was apparent that the intent of the emotive reporting was to gain sympathy for the protagonist, which it did for me, until the line that gave me agita.

From MD one evening, Ms. Clinton drove into DC for a dinner party. She parked her Lexus & went to dinner. Upon returning to the Handicapped Parking spot where she last saw her car that had an authorized permit, it was missing. The police did not know where her car was and tried, over several days, to help her find it.

Eventually she,& others in the same situation, were told that since the President was to be in the neighborhood, cars along his route were towed by the Secret Service.

Frustrated she was and for good reason. Eventually she did find her car. Undamaged, unticketed and her belongings still in the trunk, the story had a happy ending.

But… the sentence that got my dander in a tizzy was the following: Ms. Clinton “has the handicapped tag because her husband suffered a stroke.”

But her husband was home in MD & did not attend the dinner. So why, I ask, did she park in a handicapped parking spot? Answer: Because she could and no one would question her.

Sorry, but my sense of civility tells me that unless a handicapped person is driving or being transported, notwithstanding the handicapped plates or tag on the rearview mirror, the driver should not take up a spot that a truly handicapped person might need. I think she should have gotten a parking ticket.

Am I to understand that as long as a handicapped plate or tag is in view, anyone who drives or uses the car sans a handicapped person, can, should, may, park in the restricted space? If I confronted someone,let’s say Ms. Clinton, what would the response be? My guess is: “Huh?” They would have no idea what I was babbling on about.

One’s handicap is not always obvious, like poor lung function or a weak heart. True enough. BUT NOT ALWAYS! I see many people – young & middle aged – using handicapped spaces and I would bet they are healthy and their tags are for a parent or spouse – but they have a tag, so they take up a space.
My father is paralyzed & in a wheelchair. He has a handicapped tag that I take when I transport him to doctor appointments, stores & restaurants. When I stop in front of our destination, I take out the wheelchair & help him into it & then into the establishment. Maybe I am weird, but I then move the car to a non-handicapped spot. I do not need a handicapped spot so don't use one. If I did, I would feel self-conscious. Yes, if there is a close-by handicapped spot that provides sufficient room to get him in and out of the wheelchair, I park there. But if I don't need it for my father, I don’t use it – even though I could. And this is especially true when my father is back home & I am out and about in town with an available handicapped tag in the glove compartment - where it stays until my father is with me and it is actually needed.

Posted by: varmann2 | September 24, 2010 7:53 AM | Report abuse

If you have a handicapped placard in your car, it should ONLY be used if the "qualified handicapped" person is in the car, otherwise you are abusing the placard. Period!

Posted by: SaysEye | September 24, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

What do people think about "personal" handicapped spaces assigned to a specific resident on a City block? My husband got nailed with a $500 parking ticket when he parked (my car) in a private handicapped space in Georgetown one year ago. The one-car space is managed by the City's Departments of Transportation and Motor Vehicles. But it is "personal" because it's reserved for the permit-holder who applied for a spot in front of his (or her) residence. My husband did not see the handicapped signs -- they are more than seven feet high. We protested the ticket based on the facts that the spot is not marked well enough to warn a motorist. It has been more than one year since we submitted our written protest and we have not heard back from the DMV's bureau of Adjudication Services. There is no recourse and no remedy -- Adjudication Services is the only avenue to bring a protest. With fines as high as $500, this closed system deprives drivers of due process. We have been parking on this particular block for years -- it's 33rd Street NW between Q Street and Dent Place, just off Wisconsin Ave. The handicapped signs were installed with no eye-level notices, perhaps only weeks before my husband parked there in August of 2009. More than one year later (recently), we saw one driver park the authorized vehicle in the handicapped spot and walk away from the car in perfect health. There was no handicapped or disabled person present. It is just too easy for people to abuse the privileges of handicapped parking, and these "personal" parking places should be eliminated.

Posted by: DaughterJoan | September 24, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

I had a severe stroke 2 and 1/2 yers ago. My left side was totally pralyzed, but with ongoing physical therapy (and determination), my recovery has gone pretty well. I walk with a noticeable limp, and walking tires me out quickly. I do use my hang tag when I am tired, but also park in regular spaces quite often to save the handicapped spots for those who need them more than I do.

It does make my blood boil to see someone pull into a handicapped spot, slap the hang tag up and casually walk into a store like they own the place. The rare times I have confronted people brings the usual "it's ok for me to use my mother's hang tag", etc. My response has become to explain the law and then say "just be glad you don't need that handicapped sticker for yourself. Have respect for those who do need that space and park your car elsewhere." Granted, I know they don't care, but I do feel better that I at least make them aware of the law and what they should do as responsible people.

My hope with this current case is that localities do take this as an opportunity to educate the public, and then ticket the abusers.

Posted by: smitch8887 | September 24, 2010 9:20 PM | Report abuse

I live next door to some who had a parking sign installed in front of their house. They have a two car garage a drive way that will fit four cars not small cars but large ones. They owen 5 - vehicles. They do have a special needs grandson under 10. They would need to walk pass the drive way to get to the handicap space. Before the sign was installed they would rotate vehicles. Now he parks two in the drive way and 1 in the court. We live in a small neighborhood at the end of a court. They move the vehicle from the handicap spot to the drive way to load up the vehicle. Stafford county Gov., spent tax dollars to have the sign installed. Stafford County said they did a survey before the sign was installed. When I first called the county no one new what I was talking about. Talk about abuse. The sad part of this is they have a nurse for the child 24/7 both grandparents are retired. Check it out at the end of Justin Court Stafford VA 22554.

Posted by: frone | September 27, 2010 6:04 AM | Report abuse

This is a real hotspot for me. I see a lot of people in the 40 to 50 range using handicapp tags and the spots even though they are perfectly healthy. They are using their parents tags because they are either to lazy or to "good" to park in regular spots. It is very wrong to do this and hurts those that truly need the spots. I have a good friend with MS that drives a Van with hand controls so he can get around. To get out of the Van with the wheel chair requires lot's of space. He cannot tell me how many times he has waited for a handicapp space to open up only to see it is a perfectly healthy individual getting into the car. You selfish, self important people need to think about it the next time you take a spot away from someone who needs it.

Posted by: Pilot1 | September 29, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse

"If you have a handicapped placard in your car, it should ONLY be used if the "qualified handicapped" person is in the car, otherwise you are abusing the placard. Period!"

AMEN Sistra, A-M-E-N.

SaysEye fanned.


...and don't get me started on the people that are buying them for $50 from Joe Crackhead around the corner.
Day after day I watch as fancy cars pull into metered street spaces, reach into their glove box and hang their card on their mirror, they get out of their car with their brown flip flops on and sashay up the street for hours of glitz and glamour (in brown flip flops, did I mention that?) shopping only to return loaded down with "green" bags full of "green" goodies.
"Book em Danno"

Posted by: Mcarter4 | September 30, 2010 1:17 AM | Report abuse

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