Disabled parking spaces assist the vulnerable and disabled members of the community. According to NSW statistics, motorists tend to park illegally in disabled parking spaces. These motorists take parking spots away from the over 300,000 legal NSW Mobility Parking Scheme permit holders. People who have valid disability parking permits are inconvenienced and cannot utilise the parking concessions and the wider parking spaces.
It is against the law across all the Australian States and Territories to stop or park a vehicle in a parking spot or area reserved for disabled people. Only people with disabilities and correctly displayed, valid, and current permits can park in a disability parking space. In NSW, illegal parking in a disabled parking space is a serious parking offence and the penalties may include a hefty fine and demerit points.
The Australian Disability Parking Scheme (ADPS) establishes national eligibility criteria and minimum parking concessions to allow permit holders to easily travel between the different states and territories.
The different State and Territory Governments manage the Australian Disability Parking Scheme, along with the permit applications, cost, and eligibility of applicants. The national minimum standards for disability parking concessions allow States and Territories to provide additional concessions to meet the needs of local permit holders.
The Australian Disability Parking Permit is recognised nationally, there is no fee payable when issued with an NSW Mobility Parking Scheme permit, and all of the states and territories are part of the Disability Parking Scheme. In addition, the Australian Disability Parking Permit has security features to reduce the abuse of the permits, and it is recognised across Australia.
The NSW Mobility Parking Scheme offers special parking privileges to eligible people with a disability. A disabled parking space is a parking area for people with disabilities or it is an area of a road to which a permissive disability parking sign applies. When a person applies for the NSW Mobility Parking Scheme permit, they will also receive an Australian Disability Parking Permit. A person has to apply for a Mobility Parking Scheme permit with Services NSW.
Permit holders can travel between states with their Australian Disability Parking Permit at no extra cost. However, it is important to note that parking concessions vary between states and territories. A permit holder can use the NSW Mobility Parking Scheme permit in other Australian states and territories. Disability parking permit holders must check the local parking rules and obey all road and parking conditions when travelling. The permit has to be current and valid, and the driver has to comply with the rules in concessions in the state or territory they visit.
Permit holders have to insert their NSW permit card into the Australian Disability Parking Permit and ensure they display both when parking. The NSW Mobility Parking Scheme permit is a licence-style card and it includes the cardholder’s photograph and some additional security features. The Australian Disability Parking Permit is a large purple card. It is important to ensure the permit is valid because displaying a Mobility Parking Scheme permit that expired or is invalid can result in heavy fines.
It is advisable to check if permits are recognised in other countries before travelling overseas. Overseas visitors are allowed to use their disability parking permit in NSW. The permit has to be valid and current and the driver has to comply with the NSW rules and concessions for permit holders.
The NSW Mobility Parking Scheme permit allows people with disabilities to park in parking bays marked with the disabled parking bay sign. The disabled parking bay sign is a universal blue sign of a stick figure in a wheelchair. The vehicle needs to be transporting the eligible cardholder and the permit has to be displayed correctly. Other vehicles are not allowed to stop in the dedicated disability parking spot.
Mobility Parking Scheme permits do not allow a permit holder to stand or park a vehicle between “no stopping” signs, on clearways, or in a taxi, bus, loading, construction, work, or truck zones.
Parking concessions apply when the NSW Mobility Parking Scheme permit is noticeably displayed on the vehicle and if the vehicle is used to transport the person to whom the permit is issued.
A mobility parking permit allows the holder access to the following parking concessions:
Disability Parking in Metered, Coupon, or Ticket Parking Areas
Valid permit holders are allowed to park in council and on-street metered, coupon, or ticket parking areas at no charge. The concession rates for permits for Disability Parking are only valid on the street or in Council car parks.
Disabled Parking Rules NSW Time-Limited Parking Areas
A permit holder can park in time-limited parking areas for longer periods. The following time limits apply when parking at a time-limit signpost:
· Unlimited parking if the signpost is 30 minutes or more
· Up to two hours if the signpost allows 30 minutes
· Maximum 30 minutes if the signpost only allows less than 30 minutes
Disability Parking in No Parking Areas
A permit holder can only park for 5 minutes to drop off or pick up passengers or goods in No Parking areas. In addition, the driver cannot leave the vehicle unattended and driver must remain within 3 metres of the vehicle.
Disability Parking in Privately Operated Car Parks
Privately operated car parks are usually privately owned and within private business complexes or behind boom gates and no parking concessions are afforded or apply in the parking areas. A permit holder must display a valid permit, pay any parking fees charged by the car park operator, and obey the car park rules. The private operator determines these rules, and they are usually enforced by designated personnel.
A person is only eligible for a Mobility Parking permit if the person is unable to walk because of a permanent or temporary loss of the use of one or both legs, a permanent medical or physical condition prevents them from walking or they use a walking frame, crutches, scooter, callipers, wheelchair, or any other similar mobility aid. People who are permanently blind can also apply for Mobility Parking permits.
Disability parking permits are valid for 3 to 5 years, depending on a person’s location and whether the disability is seen as permanent by the doctor certifying the application form.
A person can follow the following guidelines to apply for a disability parking permit:
· Download and complete the NSW Mobility Parking Scheme application form
· A copy of the form is also available from any government service centre
· Submit the form at any NSW service centre with:
– Proof of identity
– Payment of $44 (eligible pensioners qualify for a concession or free permit)
– Photograph (new photo or use existing valid photo stored in the Roads and Maritime system)
The medical information in the application will be used for the administration of the NSW mobility parking permit, and, where appropriate, also for the Driver Licencing Scheme. Roads and Maritime ensure that all NSW licence holders are medically fit to drive.
A legally qualified medical practitioner, such as a GP or neurologist, has to complete the medical certificate section of the mobility parking application form to confirm a person’s medical eligibility for the scheme. The applicant has to complete the first section of the application form in full before seeing the doctor. The doctor will then complete Section 2 and Section 3 of the application form.
A person with a driving licence must notify Roads and Maritime of their MND diagnosis. The medical information provided by the doctor will be used to verify a person’s medical fitness to drive. A person might also have to provide the Driver Licencing Scheme with a medical assessment report.
A driver will face restrictions on or a suspension of their driver’s licence if the medical practitioner recommends restrictions on a person’s driver’s licence or certifies that a person is medically unfit to drive. A condition will be added to a person’s driver’s licence where appropriate and a person will have to provide a General Medical Assessment Report.
This General Medical Assessment Report must be completed by a medical practitioner and returned within eight weeks. A person’s licence will be suspended if the form has not been submitted within eight weeks.
There are certain disability parking space requirements a parking area needs to adhere to ensure people who use these spaces can access them easily and safely. Some of the requirements are:
· The amount of disability parking spaces needed – the class of the building and the number of visitors will determine the amount of disability parking spaces
· Disabled parking space size – disabled parking spaces have to adhere to very strict dimensions, minimum height clearance with no potential obstructions
· Disabled parking spaces have to allow for a shared space next to or in between two disabled car parking spaces to ensure safe entry and exit from the side of the vehicle
· Disabled parking spaces must be level to ensure safe and easy wheelchair access to the vehicle
· Kerb ramps have to be provided if necessary to allow easy access to the premises or a walkway
· Ensure the disability parking signage is visible to all motorists according to the requirements
· Use the correct luminance standards to make disabled parking spaces as accessible as possible for vision-impaired persons
· Ensure the area around the disabled parking space is accessible and works for people of all ages and abilities
Remote control parking-bollards are used to prevent unauthorised drivers from parking in disabled parking bays. Disabled and physically impaired drivers can easily activate the automatic parking bollard with a remote control. It is only effective to deter other motorists from parking in the disabled parking bays.
Councils and enforcement offices struggle to enforce and restrict parking in disability parking spaces. The remote control parking bollards help to keep unauthorised drivers out.
Clause 203 of the Road Rules 2014 (NSW) stipulates a person can only park in a disabled spot if the person holds and display a current parking permit for people with disabilities. The person also has to comply with the conditions of the use of the permit.
It is against the law for a person to stop their vehicle in a designated parking area for people with disabilities if they do not have a disabled parking permit and are not disabled. In NSW, the fines for illegally parking in a disabled parking space are hefty.
A person parking illegally in a disabled parking space can receive an on-the-spot fine or penalty notice of $581 and one demerit point. If a person chooses to go to Local Court, the maximum penalty for the offence can be a fine of up to $2,200. A person might choose to go to the Local Court to defend the offence or to seek leniency by pleading guilty in the hope of getting a Section 10 conviction penalty sentence to avoid the fine or the demerit points.
A disability parking permit holder has to display their disability parking permit on their vehicle at all times. The NSW permit card has to be inserted into the Australian Disability Parking permit and displayed when parking. The vehicle must be used to transport the person to whom the permit has been issued. Council rangers and police patrol areas and they might cross-check the permits against the system for validity. If a person displays an expired disability parking permit, heavy fines will apply.
If a person does not adhere to the conditions of the disability parking permit, the offence can attract a fine of $2,200 in Court or an on-the-spot penalty notice fine of $697.