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Sunday, May 16, 2021
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Disability permit misuse ‘cause for concern’

The ability for Parking Operations inspectors to check the validity of disability parking permits while in the field has seen over 500 infringements issued in the space of four months.

According to ACT Government figures, 272 infringements were issued to drivers in just one month (15 February to 15 March inclusive) for using lost, stolen or invalid disability parking permits. An additional 307 infringements have been issued up until 15 June.

A $600 fine applies if a vehicle is parked in a disabled car bay with a lost, stolen, expired or deceased person’s permit. A $120 fine applies if a vehicle is displaying a lost, stolen, expired or deceased person’s permit in a timed or pay parking bay.

Access Canberra’s Director of Parking Operations and Traffic Camera Compliance, Chris Seddon, said technology now allows parking inspectors to interrogate data while on patrol and check for the use of invalid disability permits or those that have been reported lost or stolen.

“This is good news for those genuinely seeking a disabled car park who often find car spaces occupied by illegally parked vehicles,” Mr Seddon said.

Most of the fraudulent use is due to people other than the permit holder using the permit when the permit holder is not in the vehicle.

“Disability parking permits are issued to the person with the disability not the vehicle,” Mr Seddon said. “For example, if a driver drops off a permit holder in say Woden, the driver is not entitled to use the permit in Civic without the permit holder being with them.

“It is also illegal to use the permit of a person who has passed away.”

Executive Officer of People With Disabilities ACT (PWD ACT) Rachel Sirr said the figures “are cause for concern”.

“PWD ACT has over time received varying levels of complaints from people with disabilities who hold disability parking permits who cannot find a vacant parking space to either attend their work or go shopping, attend appointments or meet with friends,” Ms Sirr said.

“The vast majority of people with disabilities who have disability parking permits value them highly and use them correctly.”

In addition to targeting misuse of disability parking permits, she said it is important to continue “public education on the correct use of these valued parking spaces”.

PWD ACT would also like to see the timeframe allowed in disabled carparks is consistent city-wide, regardless of whether the carpark is publicly or privately managed.

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