Illegal Parking in Disabled Parking Spots Increases Despite Increase Fine of $450

Update: see previous posts – October 20, 2014 Toronto: Accessible Parking Permit Grants Holders Free Parking., March 31, 2013 Ontario: Fire Hydrant’s and Accessible Parking Permits, October 20, 2011 Abusing Accessible Parking Permits, August 25, 2010 Parking Enforcement Officers Improperly Parking in “Disabled Parking Zone”

Motorists who aren't disabled, often park in designated parking spots for the disabled, because they can't find a regular parking spot and for the simple convenience. On March 14, 2008 the City of Toronto increased fines ranging from $50-$150 to $450 for motorists illegally parking in a disabled parking spot, without an accessible parking permit displayed on their dashboards.
Motorists who aren’t disabled, often park in designated parking spots for the disabled, because they can’t find a regular parking spot and for the simple convenience. On March 14, 2008 the City of Toronto increased fines ranging from $50-$150 to $450 for motorists illegally parking in a disabled parking spot, without an accessible parking permit displayed on their dashboards.

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Heavier fines for parking in an accessible space don’t appear to have discouraged the illegal use of disabled parking spots, the Star has learned.

Although parking enforcement officers have slapped drivers with nearly $45 million in tickets for parking illegally in a space for the disabled since 2005, they have written about the same number of tickets each year.

The fine more than tripled in 2008. Parking enforcement doled out $1.5 million in tickets in 2007 and $4.5 million the next year but issued about 12,000 tickets a year.

This information was obtained with a freedom of information request.

A Mercedes Benz driver got a $450 fine on Sept. 16 for parking at 410 College St., in a space reserved for a disabled person with a permit. This accessible parking spot was the most ticketed one in the city since 2005. There were almost 5,000 tickets issued there, for a total of $1.9 million in fines.
410 College St., has the highest number of tickets to motorists who park a space reserved for a disabled person without a permit – a $450 fine. This accessible parking spot was the most ticketed one in the city since 2005. There were almost 5,000 tickets issued there, for a total of $1.9 million in fines.

The spike in fines followed a Star investigation in 2007 revealing widespread abuse of disabled parking permits.

One case involved a midtown travel agent who parked her Jaguar for free in Yorkville using a disabled parking permit before walking to a salon appointment in high heels. She said she received the permit after a leg injury, but records showed it belonged to someone with a serious heart condition.

The investigation also revealed that there were an unlikely number of centenarians, 4,400, holding a disabled parking permit in Ontario. That December, the Ontario government made it harder for scammers to get away with parking for free by reducing the validity period for temporary disabled parking permits and weeding out thousands of “dead” permit holders.

“The parking permit program is something we — as people with disabilities — fought hard for,” said Sandra Carpenter, executive director of the Centre for Independent Living in Toronto, in an email on Thursday. “I can’t tell you how offensive it is to find that people are using this program for false and frivolous reasons.”

The most ticketed spots were spread out across the city, but four were in Yorkville, where street parking is scarce.

The riskiest spot to park a car without a valid accessible parking permit was 410 College St., in Harbord Village, facing the Kensington Community School. That space alone was responsible for $1.9 million in tickets since 2005.

Scott Wylie, a parking supervisor with the disabled liaison unit of the Toronto police, said drivers continue to abuse accessible parking spots because they are convenient.

Police have seized 800 accessible parking permits for misuse this year, he noted. The fine for using someone else’s permit ranges from $300 to $5,000, for repeat offenders.

Someone can use their permit in any vehicle they are travelling in, regardless of whether they have a driver’s licence. It allows them to park in accessible parking spots and means they don’t have to feed the meter and gives them other exemptions.

Those who need an accessible parking permit must have certification from a doctor or one of a number of other health-care practitioners.

Ontario is planning to tighten up ID requirements for an accessible parking permit, said Anne-Marie Flanagan, a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services.

She couldn’t be more specific because the policy change is still in the works, she said.

There are 119,000 people with permits in the GTA and 687,000 in Ontario, according to the ministry.

Accessible Parking Permit Holder Rules

You can use an accessible parking permit in any vehicle you will be travelling in, even if you do not own a car or have a driver’s licence.

Always display your permit on the dashboard or sun visor of the car so the permit number and expiry date is clearly visible.

Only the person whose name is on the permit can use it to park in an accessible parking space. The permit must be returned to a ServiceOntario centre when the person named on the permit is deceased, a permit is no longer required, or if a lost permit is found. If another person uses the permit, it can result in fines of up to $5,000 and the permit being seized.

Who is Eligible for an Accessible Parking Permit?

To get an accessible parking permit, your healthcare practitioner must certify that you have one or more of the following health conditions:

  • cannot walk without help from another person, brace, cane, crutch, a lower limb prosthetic device or similar assistive device
  • need to use a wheelchair
  • forced expiratory volume is less than 1 litre per second
  • portable oxygen is a medical necessity
  • cardiovascular disease impairment classified as class 3 or 4 according to the Canadian cardiovascular standard or American Heart Association
  • severely limited in the ability to walk due to an arthritic, neurological, musculoskeletal or orthopaedic condition
  • vision is 20/2000 or poorer in the better eye with corrective lenses
  • the greatest diameter of the field of vision in both eyes is 20 degrees or less
  • a condition or functional impairment that severely limits your mobility

There is no age limit to apply for an accessible parking permit.

Healthcare Practitioners Who Must Certify Your Medical Condition

When you apply, your condition can only be certified by a:

  • physician
  • chiropractor
  • registered nurse practitioner (extended class)
  • physiotherapist
  • occupational therapist
  • chiropodist or
  • podiatrist

They will indicate on your application whether you have a permanent, temporary condition or subject-to-change disability.

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