Disability parking permit holders are eligible for certain allowances and entitlements to accommodate their needs. However, there are still a lot of misunderstandings about the scheme, so we decided to do some research and shed light on the issue by busting a few common disability parking myths and giving you the facts once and for all.
Only wheelchair users qualify for a disability parking permit
One of the most common misconceptions about disability permits is that only people who use a wheelchair are eligible. This has led to many instances where people with valid permits have been challenged for using accessible parking spaces because they don’t “look disabled”. It’s important to remember that there are a host of illnesses that cause mobility issues which may not necessitate the use of a wheelchair or even be obvious to an onlooker. These are known as invisible disabilities and refers to people with chronic pain, poor vision, fatigue, balance problems, amputations and other mobility restrictions. So rather than judging someone based on how they look, judge them on their parking permit. If they have a valid permit then they are entitled to use the space, regardless of their appearance.
You can buy a disability parking permit
We have all heard stories of people using someone else’s permit or even inappropriately acquiring permits to cheat the system – but the reality is that these people represent a small minority of all permit holders. Most people have a permit because they need it, so don’t let the actions of a few influence your opinion of the majority of people who genuinely require their permit.
The Australian Disability Parking Scheme has been designed for people with genuine mobility restrictions. Permits are not given out lightly and you can be certain that they are not available for sale to whoever is willing to pay. While there are different criteria in each state/territory, people must have a legitimate mobility restriction and provide a doctor’s certificate to qualify for their permit. For example, in NSW you qualify for a permit if (a) you use a wheelchair or other mobility aid, (b) your physical condition is detrimentally affected by walking 100 metres, or (c) you are permanently visually impaired.
Your family and friends can use your permit
While a lot of people believe this to be true, the law is pretty clear on this: it is illegal for anyone to use a disability parking permit unless the permit holder is travelling with them in the car. So if your family or friends use your permit without you – even if they are running an errand for you or visiting you in the hospital – they risk being fined for misusing the permit.
Permit holders can park anywhere, anytime at no cost
In addition to parking in designated accessible parking spaces, permit holders are entitled to certain concessions and increased time in most time-limited public parking spaces – but you can’t park wherever you choose. Parking is not permitted in restricted locations like clearways, taxi/bus zones, authorised resident areas or no parking or no stopping areas.
Permits are free
While pensioners and minors may qualify for a free permit, in most situations people are required to pay a fee for their permit. The fees and charges vary in each state/territory so it’s best to check with the relevant authority in your area to find out about the applicable fees and charges.
Once you’ve been awarded a permit, it’s yours for life
Once again, there are different rules applicable in each state/territory, but in most cases, you will need to renew your permit with your local authority every 3-5 years. You will be sent a renewal notice several weeks before you need to renew so make sure you submit your application within the allocated time as it’s illegal to use an outdated permit and you may face fines if you do so.
You can’t use your permit when you travel interstate
If you have a disability parking permit from your home state you can use it anywhere in Australia. However, you need to be aware that road laws change from state to state so it is important to check parking laws in the state/territory that you are visiting. If you are planning to move interstate permanently you must re-apply for a permit in your new state/territory.
Insurance is more expensive for disability permit users
Permit holders often struggle to find quality car insurance. Finding the right policy is particularly difficult if your car has been converted for drivers or passengers with a disability. This is because most insurers don’t understand disabilities so they often quote higher premiums because they consider disability permit users to be high-risk drivers. As Australia’s first independence and disability insurance specialist, we at Blue Badge know that permit holders are generally safer drivers who represent a lower risk and we think they deserve to be rewarded with lower prices. Find out more about our car insurance here.