Can disabled person stay in the car while parked?

The in basket: Bob Rogers wrote in following the last time I addressed disabled parking rules and said, “In today’s column, you stated that the disabled person must be present in the car to use a disability parking place. Before, I thought you said they also have to get out of the car and enter the
store. It doesn’t seem right that an able bodied person could park in a disabled space and go in the store. They could park in a
regular space.”


The in basket: Bob Rogers wrote in following the last time I addressed disabled parking rules and said, “In today’s column, you stated that the disabled person must be present in the car to use a disability parking place. Before, I thought you said they also have to get out of the car and enter the
store. It doesn’t seem right that an able bodied person could park in a disabled space and go in the store. They could park in a
regular space.”
The out basket: I found a discussion of this in a column that appeared back in September of 2005 that said I believed I had been told during a ride-along with two disabled parking enforcers years before that the disabled person couldn’t remain in the car if in a disabled space while an able-bodied driver goes into the store.
But that 2005 column quoted one of the officers as saying that is not true, and Kitsap County Sheriff’s Deputy Pete Ball confirms that now.
“The law only requires that the person with the disability be in the vehicle at the time the space is being used,” Pete wrote. “The person is not required
to get out of the car. We will not (cannot) write a ticket if the
person with the disability remains in the car.
“What we do is try to educate them that if they have an able-bodied person available, the disabled space should be left available as a courtesy to others that may need the space, as your letter writer questioned. Legally though, they
can use the space.”
In response to that 2005 column, Ga Neille Posey Hostvedt wrote to say, “I understand the point of view that this should be illegal. However, there are sometimes unseen reasons for these incidences.
“My late husband was quadriplegic for two decades due to multiple sclerosis. This disease causes weakness and tiredness at unpredictable times.
“I occasionally would park in a disabled marked spot. Many times he was too tired to go into the store with me. The disabled spot allowed him room to get out of the vehicle should there be any problem. Rare as it may be, cars do spontaneously catch on fire. It happened to my sister-in-law’s car. We had a wheelchair ramp and if he needed to get out of the van, he had space to do so.
“A quadriplegic has many obstacles to overcome,” Ginnie said. “If everyone spent a day in a wheelchair, there would be great compassion and understanding about life as
a disabled person. There are those who do take unfair advantage, but, I believe most people have good intentions.”

3 thoughts on “Can disabled person stay in the car while parked?

  1. Ginny brings up a good point and I thank her for the education.
    Had never thought of the need for emergency exit for a person in a wheelchair and parked in a parking lot…until now. Thank you…I’ll pass the comment on..
    Sharon O’Hara

  2. My disabled mother and I often run errands together. Sometimes, after I’ve parked, she decides to stay in the car. If the errand is a lengthy one, I sometimes move to another space, although at the end of a row, where she can get out. If the errand is a short one, I hang her card on the mirror and off I go.

    BTW, the disabled card that hangs from the mirror is supposed to be removed while driving. This is so that you can see where you are going. I see a lot of people driving with the card still hanging.

    Another BTW: Just because you have the card or the license plate, if the disabled person is not in the car with you, shame on you if you park in the handicap spaces. Not only is it illegal, it’s rude and selfish.

  3. At one time, I carried a “Handicap” sign in my car for my dad’s use. He was unable to walk a distance.
    An acquaintance was riding with me to a event in Seattle, spotted the sign and – yes, she actually did – suggest I use it at a stop she needed to make in a crowded parking lot.
    She argued that if I used my dad’s Handicap sticker, it would allow her to spend less time on her errand….everyone would benefit because we would be out of the parking lot sooner.
    She never understood why I wouldn’t and I’ve never understood how she could have asked and her reply…”Everybody does it!”.

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