Using a disabled placard when its owner stays in the car

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

for her.

“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

was disabled.

“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

front door.

“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


20 thoughts on “Using a disabled placard when its owner stays in the car

  1. Sounds like much ado about nothing….must’a been a slow activity day for this volunteer, he’s kind of splitting hairs…the object of the enforcement should be to insure that the permit is not being used by a person other than the person to whom it was issued.

    Are these volunteers “indemnified” by the local government against civil claims, (lawsuits),?? “Kind” or not he’s playing with fire in the event he causes some injury or embarrassment to a person by shuffling vehicles or handicapped persons from one spot to another.

    1. I live in Poulsbo now going on 2 years and downtown where all the fun shops are n the famous bakery, there is not one handicapped parking space. It’s not fair…I have not got to get out and enjoy the walk and shops at all and they don’t care. I have 38 screws in my back with hardware and am on a cane. What’s wrong with this town.? My money is as good as anyone else’s and I can’t walk uphill from behind the shops, it would be nice to see 2 or 3 spots for us to park please.

    2. Sorry, as a retired LEO the Volunteer was correct, the Disabled person although had a right to the spot she does if she exits the vehicle, she did not exit the vehicle so there was not need for her daughter to take the spot, Handicapped parking is for the disabled person, We could argue that she took her mother with her so she could park closer as well. Bottom line is the Volunteer was right.

    3. No it is NOT “splitting hairs”. Every single time I go to my Meijers store there are people doing this. The disabled person is sitting in the car while the able bodied person goes in to shop. When you have multiple people doing this at the same time they are depriving handicapped people, such as myself, a space to park. It is abusing the handicapped placard no matter how you want to spin it. I’m getting ready to go to the store right now and I promise there will be at last one car/driver doing this; and probably more as we’re having snow and people want to ‘stock up’.
      This is wrong and self-centered. One would think a handicapped person would know better, would be empathetic to others. Shame on them.

  2. Amen to Deputy Montague. There are too damn many lazy people out there with an attitude of entitlement. If her mother was not leaving the car, there is no reason the driver could not have parked in a space further away, except that SHE didn’t want to walk the extra few feet. Whether she “intended” to or not, she was using her mother for a close parking space like carpool-lane cheaters use a blow-up doll.

  3. I very often took my disabled mother with me on errands. I preferred to park in the handicapped access spaces, even if she were not going to get out of the car. The regular spaces are so narrow that the passenger door could not be opened wide enough for her to get out if another car was parked on that side. It was not about the distance I would have to walk. It was about her safety. If she needed to get out of the car, the car had to be situated so that she could do so.
    Her permit was for any car she was in, not just for one she would drive. The spaces are not just for closer walks – they are also for access to enough room for the door and a walker or wheelchair, if necessary.

    At some locations, the handicapped marked spaces are not the closest to the door. They are the closest to a ramp, and they are wider than the regular spaces, or have stripes in the space next to them so that no one can park there.

  4. I have fibromyalgia, and, I don’t drive because of it. Very often, I am in a state of exhaustion and find it difficult to complete even the task of walking through a grocery store. If I am not going in a store we don’t use the handicapped parking spot, but I would like to point out one flaw in this ‘sitting in the car while using placard’ rule. There have been times when I just have to go back to the car and wait for my driver. We may be parked in a handicapped space, and I certainly can’t stop my helper in mid-shopping with items in the cart to go move the car to another non-handicapped one. How would the officer handle that situation? Is he or she going to haul my carcass out of the car and send me to jail? Maybe get on the loudspeaker for the store and call my husband or friend? I had someone say to me once,”Well, you’re not THAT handicapped”. Yes, I AM. If I’m sitting in our car in a handicapped spot it’s for a damn good reason.

    1. I agree with you…even with 38 screws in my back and hardware I go in the grocery stores and have to hold onto my cart for dear life because people tha weigh 275- 300 are riding in all the motorized carts. This is really bugging me, most are greasy haired and the whole thing makes me sick as I stand in line not knowing if I’m going to pass out and sweating because my pain is so intense and I can’t take anything till I get home. It’s Rediculous they need the excersise and one day I will say m y p race. So sick of it in Kitsap County.

      1. Don’t judge overweight people who are riding on the electric scooters in the stores! I use to be a lot thinner. Then one day i fell at work and hurt my knee. x-rays didn’t show what was really wrong. Everyone thought it was just a sprain, I had physical therapy and it just got worse and i went to work everyday in awful pain. Since then and many years later, I’ve had arthroscopic surgery then finally totally knee replacement. All that time my other knee started hurting and got worse till now, i have a difficult time just walking through my house to get a drink or upstairs to go to bed or to the bathroom. I can’t stand or walk for more than a few short minutes at a time due to the pain I’m in everyday. Do i “want” to ride one of those scooters around? NO! I “have” to. And, yes, I’m one of those FAT people, NO, my hair isn’t always greasy, unless it is really hot out and I’ve been sweating so it needs washed. I have a friend who is still thin and fairly healthy looking, but she had asthma so bad that there were times she had to leave a store just because she couldn’t breathe good enough and get enough air into her lungs to be able to walk around a store. Don’t judge someone when you don’t know their story! I use to go for long walks almost every day before i got hurt. I miss those days. I miss going hiking, biking, roller skating and horseback riding. I don’t go shopping unless i absolutely have to and the store has scooters. I’d be happy to be able to pass up riding a scooter and walk around a store or go to garage sales again without worrying that i might end up in so much pain that I’ll fall.

        1. I get it it’s all about perspective and judgements. I had so many totally nasty things happen to me because people pass judgement. I even had a lady punch me in the back and run away . Not fun

      2. Just because someone is 250-300 lbs and using scooter, doesnt mean their weight is the reason they use it or that they are lazy. I am.a big woman, however, I have several other medical reasons for using a store scooter. I own my own powerchair, but cant always load it in my van myself so I use the stores. I’ve seen perfectly healthy teens and kids using these in stores playing around too. I’m sorry you are in so much pain daily. I can relate personally.

  5. Can the person who is disabled stay in the car whilst parked in a disabled bay stay in the car whilst the passenger does shopping for the disabled driver !!

    1. If the passenger is also disabled, I think the answer is “Yes”. If not, then why would you need to take a space from someone who needs it?

  6. Disabled spaces are for providing access for individuals with disabilities, not as a courtesy for their able bodied drivers. Crazy that someone thinks this is OK, though it’s also crazy and unsustainable for so many people to be issued disabled permits.

  7. If for example the able bodied is going into the store and your not, parked in the disabled parking and the the able body comes out and you need to go to the bathroom, you needed the handicapped parking.

  8. I would think that if a disabled person is qualified to get a handicapped placard, he or she is vulnerable enough to need immediate assistance should the need arise. In other words, a person’s handicapped status should enable them to be close to a place of business or increased foot traffic in case of emergency.

  9. I believe if someone has a placard issued to them, there driver who is assisting them should be able to use that spot, while they are with them. There could be a million reasons why the driver needs to come back and get them, they might need to use the restroom, they might need to get out the car for an emergency and can’t in a regular spot, so many things. Officers should go after people who actually are misusing them.

  10. My wife is the handicapped one and a lot of the time will choose to stay in the car while I go into the store but she is fearful to be by herself if left in the middle of the parking lot. For her sake I will use the handicap slot if she is with me. Personally, I would rather park out a bit. I need and enjoy the walk for a minimum of exercise.

  11. Yeah. That’s what the story just said. I mean, they didn’t get to talk about how you used to be in Law Enforcement, but…

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