By: Sharon Aron Baron
South Florida has a large population of elderly drivers and Tamarac is no exception. In fact, for a handicapped driver, it can be a real challenge to find a disabled parking spot at a major shopping center on any given day.
Florida Statutes provides for disabled parking permit placards to be issued for use by disabled persons who have long-term, permanent or temporary mobility impairment, or who are legally blind or temporarily sight-impaired. The part about being legally blind seems troubling, as we have enough bad drivers on the road today. Although being legally blind is a true handicap, I can’t imagine how a doctor would recommend their patient continue driving.
On a typical South Florida commuter drive, you can count several disabled parking placards hanging from rearview mirrors obscuring the driver’s vision. Just this morning as I gave directions to a man that was lost in my neighborhood and noticed that the placard hanging from his rearview mirror was impeding upon his ability to see the street signs. This is dangerous and impairs one’s vision when the card is left there. Don’t these people realize it becomes more of a handicap because it limits their field of vision?
Why would anyone drive around with their placard hanging from their rearview mirror? Like a graduation tassel, disabled drivers don’t need to brag about their limitations. And they certainly don’t need to give each other high fives because they belong to the same club.”
Despite the obvious advantages of of handicapped parking for our disabled citizens, there is still a measure of debate. Some argue that handicapped parking does more harm than good because sometimes handicapped parking minimizes safety, for instance when there is a road between the spaces and building entrances. Other arguments focus on the abuse of handicapped parking by those deemed not handicapped enough to justify special parking and that handicapped parking increases accidents and results in fewer parking spaces. Also, those that have handicap parking permits are allowed to park at metered parking spaces for free, as well as gain entrance to many parks.
In 2012, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles stated that any person issued a blue permanent disabled parking permit must renew the permit every four years and, when doing so, provide a certificate of disability completed and signed by a certifying authority within the last 12 months. That means every blue disabled parking permit holder will, at least every four years and within 12 months of the date of their renewal, fill out Form HSMV 83039. This aims to reduce abuse and the fraud of obtaining Disabled Parking permits. This came as welcome news to the many disabled people forced to park elsewhere because parking spaces were occupied by people who don’t need them.
The new law does not affect red temporary disabled parking permits, nor people who have disabled (wheelchair) license plates. Before this change, blue disabled parking permit holders had to renew their parking permits every four years, but they did not have to submit certificates of disability when renewing.
What are the do’s and don’ts for driving with a disabled parking permit once you have received one?
Correct use of a disabled parking permit:
- Once parked, hang your permit on your rearview mirror.
- Hang your permit so the expiration date can be seen.
- Have your permit registration with you at all times.
- Make sure your permit is not expired.
- Park properly in disabled space.
- Remove your permit before driving.
- Replace your permit immediately if lost.
- Return your permit to DMV if the permit is no longer needed.
- Always use YOUR OWN PERMIT ONLY.
- Be courteous to police or parking officials.
Incorrect use of a disabled parking permit:
- Don’t use someone else’s permit (including relatives).
- Don’t park in the Access Aisle (Stripped Area). The fine for parking in the Access Aisle is $250.00, even with a permit.
- Don’t drive with your permit hanging on the rearview mirror.
- Don’t use an expired permit.
- Don’t put your permit on the dash with the expiration date covered.
- Don’t let anyone else use your permit, including close family members and relatives. (Permits are registered to persons, not vehicles).
I also want to add to the list that if you or a loved one doesn’t need the placard for medical reasons any longer, and you can get from the parking lot to Costco with no problem, let alone walk the entire store, then be proud enough to get rid of it and let other drivers have those desirable spaces. There aren’t enough of them in our area.
If you have one of the following medical conditions then you may qualify for a disabled permit. Read carefully as they are specific.
2013 Florida Statutes 320.0848 says that: persons who have disabilities; issuance of disabled parking permits; temporary permits; permits for certain providers of transportation services to persons who have disabilities.—
(b)1. The person must be currently certified as being legally blind or as having any of the following disabilities that render him or her unable to walk 200 feet without stopping to rest:
(c) The certificate of disability must include, but need not be limited to:
3. The signatures of: