The lowdown on disabled parking spaces

The in basket: Scot Runyan asks “If you have a handicapped sticker displayed on your vehicle, does that entitle you to park anywhere or just where there are signs for handicapped parking? Specifically– if you have a handicapped sticker displayed on your vehicle does that entitle you to park in a “loading and unloading zone?”


The in basket: Scot Runyan asks “If you have a handicapped sticker displayed on your vehicle, does that entitle you to park anywhere or just where there are signs for handicapped parking? Specifically– if you have a handicapped sticker displayed on your vehicle does that entitle you to park in a “loading and unloading zone?”
The out basket: I went to Deputy Pete Ball, who deals with handicapped parking regulations a lot as supervisor of the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Citizens on Patrol, which writes tickets for violations in spots reserved for the handicapped, for an answer.
He said, “The handicapped parking privilege allows the person who has the disability to use the handicapped spaces. Only if that person is in the vehicle can the vehicle legally park in the handicapped space. That vehicle can park anywhere else they want, they are not required to use the handicapped spaces.
“The handicapped privileges DO NOT allow the vehicle to park in other restricted spaces any more than any other vehicle can,” Pete said. “Someone would still have to qualify separately to use the load/unload zones legally.
“Fire hydrants, bus stops, fire zones are all handled the same way as other vehicles, all must comply with the restrictions.
“As for on-street timed parking, (such as) a posted four-hour or two-hour parking limit on a typical street, those with handicapped privileges (plates, placards or license tabs, all the same) are not limited by that time zone. So a person with the handicapped privilege could use on-street parking and stay there all day. There is an exception, however, and that is when the local governing body specifically posts and designates limits for handicapped persons. Then the law says it can be no less than four hours. But it must be clearly posted, if not, there is no time limit.
“I can only guess,” he said when I asked the reason for that, “but I think the rational the Legislature used was due to limited mobility status, it created an undue hardship to require handicapped folks to go back to their cars and move them.”

One thought on “The lowdown on disabled parking spaces

  1. Thanks so much for your column on handicapped parking. It seemed obvious that a handicapped sticker wouldn’t allow parking in other restricted parking areas. But my son (who is wheelchair bound) will be thrilled to find out that most parking time limits do not apply to him. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a sign posting a separate time limit for handicapped parking per the exception you mention. I assume the RCW reference for this is RCW 46.16.381(10) and RCW 46.61.582. I note the latter one also says if qualified for handicapped privileges, you don’t have to feed the parking meters, either.

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