Social Question

john65pennington's avatar

Are fraudulent people abusing handicap parking spaces?

Asked by john65pennington (29182points) May 11th, 2010

Outside of a big shopping mall in Nashville, my wife and i sat in my car and observed people that parked in the handicap parking spaces. one woman ran from her vehicle and into the mall. i could see no visible handicap on this woman, yet she had the blue placard attached to her rearview mirror. can these people be approached about their “handicap”, since a persons health condition is protected by federal law?

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31 Answers

Seaofclouds's avatar

There are some conditions that aren’t visible that make a person eligible for a handicap placard, such as various lung conditions and cancers.

I would imagine if a cop was concerned that the person is using someone else’s placard they could approach them. I’m not sure how the handicap placards are linked into the police’s information though, so I’m not sure how they would know if it’s really theirs or not.

chyna's avatar

You may not have the whole picture. My mom is on oxygen, has lung cancer, and really can’t walk very far. I have a handicapped placcard. I let my mom off at the door, park in a handicapped place and usually run in to the store also so my mom doesn’t have to stand/sit there alone in the stores’s wheelchair.

john65pennington's avatar

Seaofclouds, this is a problem for the police and certain people know this. i realize that some handicaps are not visible. i do not believe a person with a legit handicap is going to quickly park and run into the mall. maybe this woman was using a family members handicap placard for her own personal use. the owner of the placard must be in the vehicle, in order to park in a handicapped space. i belive she was committing fraud, thus my question. could this woman even be questioned about her physical condition, since it may violate federal law?

Seaofclouds's avatar

@john65pennington Are the placards linked to the particular person in a way that you could check who they are? (I’d imagine with the handicap license plates, you could just see who the car is registered to.)If so, you could just ask for their ID and you wouldn’t have to ask about their physical condition.

john65pennington's avatar

Chyna, i had thought about this and we observed many people do just that. this is okay and thats what handicapped parking is all about. this woman had no one to let out of her vehicle. she was alone and appeared to be in very good health.

chyna's avatar

@john65pennington Ok. I worry people think this of me. I know I let her out at the door, but I usually have to either walk her to the car or wheel her to the car and that is why I use the handicap parking after letting her out.

MissA's avatar

One time, I observed a man and woman getting out of a convertible, laughing and in animated conversation. We entered the same market and I found myself beside them at the deli counter.

Finally, I said, “Excuse me, but I noticed that you parked in a handicapped parking space and you both look so healthy.” Whether it was true or not, the man said solemnly, “My wife has cancer and . . .” I felt like two-cents spent. I’ve never stopped someone since, even when they’re running in the Walmart parking lot.

john65pennington's avatar

chyna, your procedure is perfectly okay. this is what driving your mom and parking in a handicap parking space is all about. do not worry, you are doing a good deed for your mom and no one will ever question you for your kind act.

john65pennington's avatar

MissA, this is exactly why the police do not stop and question people parked in a handicapped parking space. its very embarrasing for someone to tell their condition to the police, especially if a person has a terminal condition. about all the police can do is to make certain they have a blue handicapped placard and that it has a current date on it.

MissA's avatar

@john65pennington It sure seems as if more could be done. On the other hand, while I can’t stand to see people abuse the rules that most follow…I’m just happy that I am able to walk and most of us need the exercise anyway.

I’m also put off by stores that have WAY too many handicap spaces. I mean sometimes upward of 20. Either that, or America is in pretty darn bad shape.

john65pennington's avatar

Miss A, i agree and WalMart is the worst.

perspicacious's avatar

Some people qualify for the hang tags whose disability is not obvious from seeing them go into a store.

tinyfaery's avatar

You said: “my wife and i sat in my car and observed people that parked in the handicap parking spaces.” Really? Uhh…

WestRiverrat's avatar

@MissA That is not always the businesses fault. Many business owners are told when they build or open a business how many handicapped spots they must have. That is why a lot of businessmen I know have decided not to put in off street parking for customers.

MissA's avatar

@WestRiverrat Thanks…I didn’t know that.

Trillian's avatar

Load the photon torpedoes. People like that make me crazy.
I do not understand why it is so freaking important to have a spot so close to the door. You’re going to be walking around all over the place anyhow! I think people don’t even bother to “think”, they just want to be close, like it matters. What is worse are the ones who hold people up waiting for a spot to open. Just park, get out and walk for Pete’s sake! My ex SO used to say “Are you in the wheelchair because you’re fat or are you fat because you’re in the wheelchair?” Somewhat different scenario, I know. We have those scooter chairs at the grocery store and they get a lot of use, mostly by really overweight people.
I’ve heard people actually brag about getting to use the spots because they have a family member who is handicapped. I fail to see the problem with parking at the far end and walking into the store, it never takes more than thirty seconds.
Can you tell that this is a thing that bugs me?
I repeat, “Load the photon torpedoes, and set phasers on bitch-slap!”

gemiwing's avatar

Funny how life experiences can shape our views to form so many different angles on something. Go team human!

This is an issue close to my heart, so forgive me if I get a bit erm..well.. yelly.

As pointed out, not all disabilities can be seen. That woman running? Could have Chron’s and needed to find a restroom STAT. Making it from the front of the parking lot to the bathroom inside without having your bowels give way- doable. Running from the back of the parking lot? Not usually.

I’m young enough and I get the stares when I have to use the handicap spots and power carts. I’ve had people yell at me, curse me and spit- the whole nine yards. Why? Because I’m ‘getting’ something they don’t have? I will trade anyone any day for a normally working body for my handicap tag. I’ll even give you some homemade cupcakes ;)

I can walk from the car to the store, or inside the store. Some days I don’t even need my crutches or cane to pick which one I want. Both? Not unless I want to be bed-ridden for the next three days while I heal from the walking. Some days I want to be ‘normal’ and I refuse the sticker and the scooter- then I pay for it later and that’s my choice and I pay the price.

So just because you see someone use a handicap sticker and they ‘look fine’ or a fattie in a wheelchair- please don’t assume we are gaming the system. Just assume we- and our doctors- have a good reason to think we need some extra help.

john65pennington's avatar

gemiwing, great answer. john

Primobabe's avatar

It is important to remember that not all physical handicaps are visible—cancer, lupus, multiple sclerosis, etc. The condition may nonetheless by very debilitating.

Having said that, however, there’s plenty of abuse. Perfectly healthy people either forge signatures on documents or get unethical physicians to provide fraudulent information. There’s really not much that the police or state authorities can do. The DMV doesn’t conduct health exams; if fake medical evidence is on file, that’s it.

Also, healthy people can “borrow” handicap permits. I once knew a woman whose elderly father-in-law had a lawful and legitimate permit; he passed away, and she kept his hangtag because she was too lazy to walk between parking lots and stores. Additionally, sometimes a person will have a valid but temporary reason for getting a handicap permit, but then continue to use it long after the need is gone.

Trillian's avatar

@Primobabe These are the people to whom I refer. You go paint the bulls-eye on their door, I’ll lock and load!

Primobabe's avatar

“I fail to see the problem with parking at the far end and walking into the store, it never takes more than thirty seconds.”

Never under-estimate how lazy some people can be! How many times have you seen someone wait for a close parking spacing, when there are plenty of other spaces maybe 20 or 30 feet away? They’ll waste as much as 5 minutes or more—with the turn signal blinking and the car’s engine wasting gasoline and polluting—while someone unloads his/her packages, straps the baby into a carseat, gets into the car, and finally leaves.

Trillian's avatar

My oldest daughter is a lot more passive/aggressive than I am. She sees people like this and makes them wait. She’ll get on her phone, listen to messages, make some calls, put on make-up, balance her checkbook…
I’m generally in too much of a hurry to do this.

Primobabe's avatar

“My oldest daughter is a lot more passive/aggressive than I am. She sees people like this and makes them wait. She’ll get on her phone, listen to messages, make some calls, put on make-up, balance her checkbook…”

My goodness! I wouldn’t do any of that. I’ll simply leave as planned.

Once, a woman became extremely angry at me because I wasn’t going anywhere. I had stopped by my car to drop off some packages—it was the holiday shopping season—and I still had some more errands to do. I gestured that I wouldn’t be moving my car and proceeded to start walking away. She leaned on the horn, rolled down her window to scream at me, and peeled off when she sped away. Yeesh!...I really didn’t do a single thing wrong!

evandad's avatar

I believe many people abuse the handicapped parking spots. In fact I think the bulk of folks using the spots are not really the ones that the card or spot was intended for. I think many of the cards are used by friends or relatives. They may be running errands for the rightful user. I don’t know how you could police the situation. I’ve heard that if abuse is confirmed that the card will be revoked.

Ron_C's avatar

I know it’s silly but I feel that Karma will affect able people that use the handicapped parking spaces. I only used them when my leg was severely injured and I had to use crutches or a wheel chair. That is also when I learned that you cannot get a temporary handicap card in the state of Pennsylvania. Frankly I used them and dared anyone to ticket me.

Other than that I never use them. I know how important they are for people that have trouble getting around.

I know that in Pennsylvania there is a $100–300 fine for using those spaces. I never watched people parking but the ones that I noticed using them didn’t look like they should even drive a car.

Dr_Dredd's avatar

@Ron_C I did the same thing when I lived in Pittsburgh and had to use crutches for a broken foot. No one ever said (or did) anything to me. I guess they saw me trying to crutch around without falling on my ass, and took pity…

Ron_C's avatar

@Dr_Dredd Pittsburgh is a rough place to get around on crutches. I had to go to a hospital there in the winter, in a wheelchair.

Dr_Dredd's avatar

@Ron_C Was it UPMC Presbyterian? That’s halfway up a freaking hill! :-)

Ron_C's avatar

@Dr_Dredd I forget the name. I think it was on 5th avenue and it was pretty flat. I was on a considerable amount of pain killers so my memory is a bit weak on that aspect.

Silhouette's avatar

I have a handicap card and I use it when I need it. Some days I’m so crippled I need help getting on the toilet others I’m able to walk through the parking lot on my own steam. You can approach them if you wish but you are going to be hard pressed to prove they aren’t entitled to park where they are parking.

Primobabe's avatar

Although I dislike the idea of anyone misusing a handicapped parking spot—those spaces are created for people who need them, and they should be open and available to such people—I’d never approach anyone who appears to be able-bodied. Here are my reasons:

It isn’t my place or role to police handicapped spaces.

The driver may simply be helping someone who has a legitimate reason for a permit. As a very real example, I have a neighbor who’s a quadraplegic yet works full-time. His 100% healthy caretaker drives him to and from his job. At the end of the workday, the caretaker parks in a handicapped space, goes into the office building, and helps my neighbor get out of the building and into his car. When the caretaker arrives, should she be accosted by strangers who demand to know why she’s parking in a handicapped space?

Many conditions are invisible yet no less disabling.

Someone might have a temporary permit for an injury or illness. The person might be on the mend and getting stronger, yet still have a very valid reason for using a permit.

I don’t want to get punched in the face.

There are already plenty of nasty, confrontational people in this world. I have no interest in becoming one of them.

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