The in basket: Mechelle Finklein says she ran into unexpected trouble July 1 trying to use her mother’s disabled placard while driving her on errands.
“I used a disabled spot in front of a business in the Fred Meyer
parking lot,” Michelle said. “My mother decided not to get out of the car, as it would
take more time for me to get her walker out and for her to
get in the business then it would be for me to drop off what I needed
“A volunteer Port Orchard officer (whom she described as “very kind”) pulled up behind my car and asked to see a permit, so my mother got it out and showed it to
him. When I came out of the business, he talked to me. He said
there was a fine for parking in a disabled spot if the driver of the
car was not the disabled person. He said they were designed for the
driver of the car, not because the driver was driving some one that
“The officer also said that I could park in front of a business to get my mom
out of the car and LEAVE her there and
move my car to a regular parking spot, then when she was
finished with her errand, I could LEAVE her standing at the door and go
move my car to the front of the business, put her in the car and
leave the parking lot Sorry, but I’m not leaving my 88-year old
mother anywhere that she may not be safe.
“If this is really the law,
people need to be told and the law needs to be changed for the
convenience of the disabled. If my mother not getting out of the car
caused the violation, then people need to be informed of that
The out basket: I told Mechelle that I didn’t think the officer was spot on in what she understood him to say about the law, but that he was fully justified in contacting her.
As I’ve long understood it, her problem wasn’t that the driver of the car wasn’t disabled, but that the disabled person to whom the placard was issued didn’t need the closer proximity to the business, because she stayed in the car.
Though it happened in Port Orchard, I contacted Deputy Schon Montague of the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office, who has taken over from the retired Deputy Pete Ball in supervising the county’s volunteer disabled parking patrol officers.
While noting that it was a Port Orchard incident, he described the rules that govern his volunteers and his reading of the law.
“I know that a person without a disability can drive and park in a
handicapped spot and take a handicapped passenger into the store using
the passenger’s placard,” he said.
“You can do this because of a transference
of authority from the handicapped person to you. If they were driving,
they would have used it but if you drive for them they still need to
walk that shorter distance if you don’t want to drop them off at the
“However, in this case the handicapped person was not really
using the authority of the placard because she was not getting out of
the car. So there was no transfer of authority to the non-disabled
“Long story short I agree with you and the Port Orchard