Tag Archives: placard

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

also.”

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

driver.

“Long story short I agree with you and the Port Orchard

officer/volunteer.”

Disabled parking all day in spots with a time limit

The in basket:  Michael Hilt of Manchester writes, “Evidently I need some clarification on the parking rules for the city of Bremerton.

“With the completion of the downtown tunnel and the waterfront park, the city has posted signs along First, Second, and Pacific Streets advising this area is one-hour parking only.  There seems to be only one dedicated handicapped slot here, on Second Street.  

“However,” he said, “more than a dozen vehicles with handicapped stickers (both blue and red – I don’t understand the difference) routinely occupy spots along these streets all day.  

“Most of the vehicles also have PSNS civilian access stickers on the windshield indicating to me the vehicles belong to PSNS civilian employees, thus conveniently giving them prime parking at the front of the Bremerton Gate. 

“This would seem to limit the availability of parking for visitors who wish to tour the park and museum and those who wish to shop in the downtown area. 

“First, can those with handicapped parking stickers use a dedicated one-hour spot all day?  If so, this seems to be a benefit not available to others who park downtown all day and are forced to pay for all-day parking within the city.”

“Second, doesn’t PSNS offer parking, either on base or in one of their off-base garages, for their handicapped employees?

“I think some PSNS workers have found they can take advantage of the situation,” Michael  said.

The out basket: It certainly seems that way. At noon on March 25, 16 spaces from Second Street to the ferry terminal were occupied by cars with disabled placards hanging on their rear view mirrors.  That was about 50 percent of the available spaces in that area. Many but not all had Department of Defense decals as well.

But, yes,  those with disabled plates or placards can park all day in spaces with time limits if there are no signs saying otherwise. They also can park at parking meters without paying, though I’m not sure there are any more parking meters in the county.

Lt. Pete Fisher of Bremerton police traffic says a city can enact its own rules to modify the state or federal laws that allow this, but he doesn’t believe Bremerton has done so. 

It makes no difference that a car might also have apparent access into the shipyard, he said.

The Navy does provide disabled parking spaces, says Lt. Michelle D. Kibodeaux, assistant operations officer at Naval Base Kitsap. ”

There are 15 spaces in the Navy’s parking garage in Bremerton, 125 spaces in Z lot , located across from Pier D, and 20 in F lot, located outside Missouri gate. There are also several sporadic disabled parking spaces located around the base, available primarily to areas that support customer service and require a disabled customer service space, she said. A Kitsap Access bus provides trips to and from Z lot, the one inside the base.

She noted that presence of a DOD sticker doesn’t necessarily confer parking privileges on base, or even necessarily identify  the car as that of a shipyard person, as it’s good on many other bases as well.

Fellow Navy PAO Tom Danaher says the Navy doesn’t involved itself in parking enforcement questions outside the base fences.

I’ve never learned why state law (RCW 46.61.582  Free parking for persons with disabilities) grants this kind of exemption from normal parking time limits to those with the proper plates and placards, but I hope to hear some comment on this blog from advocates for the disabled as to why it’s defensible. 

Maybe we’ll even hear from a shipyard worker or two about why parking outside the fence is preferable when they can drive inside.