Abusing disabled parking
Let me just be as blunt as possible — if you use or have ever used a handicapped parking permit that you were not legally entitled to use, then you are a pathetic piece of shit. No two-ways about it.
Few things piss me off more than people who park in Handicapped Parking spots who aren’t handicapped. If I see a car without a handicap placard or handicap license plate, I’ll often wait for the driver to come back to their car — I’m almost never nice or polite about it.
But there’s someone even more despicable than the soccer mom who thinks that her time is so important that it won’t matter if she parks in a handicapped space for “just a moment” — despite the fact that she is neither disabled nor has a valid handicapped placard — while she runs into the grocery store. And that person is the asshat who uses a fake, borrowed, or stolen handicapped placard — one for which they are not the person to whom it was issued.
You’ve seen this person more than once — a car pulls into the handicapped spot and the driver pulls a handicapped placard from the glove box and hangs it on the rearview mirror. Then the driver leaps from the car and strolls — nay, does back flips across the parking lot. They reappear a few minutes later carrying a 50 lb bag of dog food in one arm and a case of beer in the other. They hop into the drivers seat, remove the handicapped placard from the mirror, and off they go (probably late for their softball game).
I’ve always suspected that a bunch — if not a majority — of people using handicapped placards were doing so fraudulently. It’s obvious watching most people walk from their cars that they are not the one that needs that reserved spot.
The blue handicapped placard — the one I see hanging on someone’s rearview mirror the most often — is issued for people who cannot walk without an assistive device or must use a wheelchair. But the majority of people I see exiting their car not only do not have an assitive device or wheelchair. Most, in fact, seem to be walking just fine.
The Austin American-Statesman has a story today about the abuse and crackdown on fraudulent handicapped parking permits (placards and license plates).
According to the Statesman article, nearly 65% of all handicapped placards are being used illegally:
The Travis County Precinct 5 constable’s office, whose territory includes downtown, found in six months of spot-checking disabled hangtags downtown that about 65 percent are being used illegally. And that fraud is costing the city tens of thousands of dollars in parking meter money each year, Constable Bruce Elfant said.
The Statesman article mentions several times that these asshats are costing the city money in terms of parking revenue. I could give a shit about the parking revenue. I do care about people who are so selfish, and with such a sense of self-importance, that they would use a fake handicapped permit and deprive a legitimately needy person from using the designated space.
I’m a disabled veteran myself, with a 30% handicapped rating for my two knees. But I can still walk from the back of the parking lot to the front, and as long as I’m able to I’ll never use a handicapped parking spot.
Let’s hope that the Austin City Council will put up the money for another deputy devoted to disabled parking enforcement (as requested). If there are that many violators, then make the fine so heavy that 1) it will be a deterrent to those who would consider it, and 2) it would pay for the extra deputy.