Disabled Parking Cheats

One thing that really pisses me off is people who misuse disabled parking permits. In my view, able-bodied people who exploit the few meagre, yet essential, benefits available to those with disabilities are cheats who should be prosecuted.

Cars with disabled parking stickers can park in dedicated disabled parking spots and are allowed to park in timed parking zones all day. Without these arrangements, people with disabilities and carers, who have cars, are significantly disadvantaged when it comes to finding parking for everyday things like work, shopping or keeping appointments. My mother was disabled, blind and in a wheel chair, and she had a disabled parking permit. When I drove her to the shops or the doctors we used the disabled parking permit, but still often found it hard to find a parking spot. When I wasn’t driving my mother, the disabled parking permit always stayed in the glove box.

Today, I had a meeting in Sydney’s CBD. At about 9.30am, I walked from the train station to the meeting venue, down a street lined with cars parked in a one hour metered zone. Most of the cars were expensive models and over two third displayed disabled parking permits. I have no doubt some of these cars belonged to people who are entitled to a permit and who were in the city for work or some other reason. But I am equally sure not all!

As I walked along, a new Audi sports car with a disabled parking sticker pulled in and a fit young man in a stylish brown suit bounded out of the car. “Hey mate,” I called out, pointing to his windscreen. “You’ve got a disabled parking sticker.”

“My wife is disabled. I am picking her up,” he replied and started walking away.

I said nothing and was willing to give the Audi driver the benefit of the doubt; maybe he was on his way to pick up a disabled wife, even though none of the major shops were open by then and there are no medical services in the immediate vicinity.

But, then he turned back and snarled at me, “What’s it got to do with you. Haven’t you got anything better to do?”

After this outburst, I revised my opinion. Most people who rely on disabled parking permits are extremely frustrated that the permits are often abused. The attitude of the Audi man was more one of guilt rather than empathy with the problems legitimate users of the permits often encounter.

I walked on, and another car, this time a BMW suburban tractor with a disabled parking sticker cruised past looking for a parking spot. A man in his mid-thirties who looked like a gym junkie was at the wheel. Maybe he was also off to pickup a disabled relative, but some how I don’t think so!

Later, I discussed this issue with a Parking Inspector, who also believed it was likely many disabled parking permits are used inappropriately. He equated this behaviour with that of tax-cheats, but felt that there was really nothing he could do.

Unfortunately, there will always be some people who are only interested in themselves and happy to rip-off anyone. As the saying goes, they’d even rob their own grandmother.

However, as a society I think there are a few things we could do which might help stop this low behaviour:

  1. Provide heavy penalties for the misuse of disabled parking permits, at least $1000 fine and disqualification of drivers licence for a month.
  2. Prosecute doctors who are found to have knowingly facilitated the acquisition of a disabled parking permit by someone who is not entitled to one.
  3. Give Parking Inspectors the power and authority to actively seek out parking permit cheats. For example, if an Inspector sees an obviously able-bodied person get out of a car with a disabled parking permit, they should ask why they are using the permit on that occasion. If the answer is they are going to pick up someone who is disabled, the parking inspector should be allowed to wait there until this person returns to check if this is accurate. If the person is a cheat, a $1000 fine will more than cover the costs of waiting.

Finally, I would like to make it clear that the last thing I would like to see is the removal of disabled parking facilities or permits.


  1. Well, there are people with non-visible disabilities. Being disabled does not always mean having an amputated limb or having hearing aids (like I do). I have a friend who at first glance would seem to be healthy, but has disabilities that require daily dialysis and constant hydration with liquid that have a good amount of sodium, and her health status can fluctuate wildly during the day; she has a service dog which can detect when her health is diving and stabilize her during these moments. There are people with respiratory problems who can’t walk long distances but are not ill enough to require service dogs.

    Yes, there are abuses. I get furious when I see expensive cars with handicapped tags. But they should know better.

  2. I should amend “daily” dialysis to “at least twice a week” dialysis.

  3. A-bloody-men, Roger! I think the same everytime I walk up Napoleon St from Hickson Rd to Kent St.


  4. Rodger,
    hello i just wanted to say that im doing a science project on this very subject so thank u because this was very helpful! i wanted to know if i could qoute u just so i can have some opinions on what the people are saying on this topic so if u could email me ur last name so i can have an offical name under ur qoute. Thanks so much

    – Tayler
    please contact me by my email :)

  5. I have chronic pain from a spinal injury and subsequent ongoing degeneration. It is a valid disability and I can’t walk far without significant pain. Well, I have pain ALL of the time so it’s nice if I get to walk anywhere with little pain. There are times when it is difficult to walk at all. Living with pain means trying to trick your mind into believing it isn’t real. Otherwise you would go mad. The pain resulting from using public transport makes me so angry I could kill someone by the time I get home. Think this is any way to live? No. I work near home so I don’t have to commute.

    The best I can do is try to be happy. I can do hardly anything that others take completely for granted – sitting in a restaurant for too long, standing in a bar, watching a public event sitting on the ground … can’t do without significant pain. Some days worse than others, not better. I can’t make plans because who knows how it will be on the day. No one is interested in how depressing it really is. I hold down a full time job because without the routine, frankly, I would kill myself. I ride a motorbike the short distance to work. The rides are the best part of my day.

    I have a disabled pass for the car but I rarely park in disabled spots if I can avoid it. I use it more for going out in the city – a city I belong to, but am not a part of, because I can not afford to live there. It allows a little light into my otherwise miserable black existence. It allows me to feel a little like “normal” people when I go out because I don’t have to struggle to get there. I make jokes about having the pass because the truth is far from amusing.

    What really pisses me off is how I am discriminated against because I appear “normal”. I shouldn’t have to justify myself to anyone. Just because I am not yet wheelchair bound, or missing an obvious balancing limb, does not mean I am not entitled to whatever dignity I manage to have left.

    No one would want to live this way and I’d gladly swap that pass to be rid of this life but, it’s not going to happen.

  6. This is for Lola’s nonsense comment: If your handicap isn’t readily noticeable THEN IT’S NOT ENOUGH TO WARRANT USING A CLOSE PARKING SPOT. Being deaf is no reason to park by the front doors.

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