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Do they REALLY need disabled parking?

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RICHMOND, Va. - Be honest. When you go shopping and see someone walking to their car parked in a spot designated for someone with disabilities - do you wonder if that person really needed the spot? Would you ever speak up and question them?

Last year 32 Virginians were convicted of misusing disabled placards in their car or truck. The year before 28 drivers were found guilty.

The most common offenses were parking in a space reserved for a person with disabilities without displaying a disabled placard and letting someone without a disability use a disabled placard or license plate.

Experts with the disAbility Law Center of Virginia said it is not safe to assume that just because someone "looks" healthy - they really are healthy.

"We do hear that they will sometimes be harassed by folks," disAbility Law Center of Virginia Executive Director Colleen Miller said. "They'll be getting out of their car and someone will say 'What are you doing with that? Why are you in that spot?'"

It is behavior some drivers with disabilities hope to expose and work to change.

"People need to be mindful  that things exist that they don't understand," Caity Gladstone said. Gladstone said she has been given dirty looks or heard rude comments when she uses a disabled parking spot.

Caity Gladstone

***Editor's note. Caity Gladstone was incorrectly identified as Colleen Miller within the package.


  • Luv life

    When I drive my senior friend around town in the evening, I let her off at the front door so she doesn’t gave to walk far and she tells me to park her car in the handicapped spot because she is a disabled Veteran. I know I probably get evil looks because I don’t look handicapped, however, my friend is and she likes me to drive her because it is easier for her to get out of the passenger’s seat.

    • Jay (The Other One)

      If you’re just going to drop her off and pick her up at the door anyway, why do you need to park the car in a handicap space? Have you no compassion for those who are handicapped but don’t have anyone to drop them off at the door?

      • Luv life

        She is a disabled Veteran and has permanent handicapped license plates and she likes to ride her motorized cart to the car when she is finished shopping. I return the cart to the entrance and plug it in. There are times she wants to use her walker and walk, it depends how she feels.

  • Marcus

    What burns me up is when a car with handicapped tags parks in a space that is for non-handicapped.

  • Tiffany Wilson

    Umm Yeah I get STARED at constantly! I weigh 100 lbs but I am a Kidney transplant patient with very low iron that they cant seem to bring back up. I get mad all the time. Even with the Kidney Transplant recipient magnet on the back of my car. I would LOVE to be able to speak out about this. You shouldn’t judge others just because you cant see something wrong. I shouldn’t have to fake limp getting out of my car.

    • Karen T

      In a similar position as you. I have had a handicap tag since I was only about 40 yrs. old (46 now). Born with hip problems, had lots of surgeries, had a limp, lots of back pain…some days good, some bad, but hard to walk long distances. Most of the time if I could get a parking place close enough I would not use my tag but if not then I use it. I get stares too b/c of my age mostly, I assume. I recently had both hips replaced & am starting to lose the limp a bit, still am healing & have painful days where it is difficult to get around- they will never be “healed completely”. I almost feel like I have to TRY to limp so people don’t think I’m taking advantage. You never know what someone’s story may be…looks are deceiving.

  • Vivian C

    How about bugging Henrico County to do something about the number of handicapped spaces at the courthouse? There are far fewer such spaces there than at most grocery stores. When I complained while going through security, the guards there said they get complaints all the time.

  • Robbie

    I approached this well to do young lady and her sister one time. She had handicap plates and was parked in a space. There was clearly nothing wrong with either. She told me her son was handicapped so when I noticed the child wasn’t with her. I had to ask her if she felt right using his handicap to keep her from dragging her lazy
    a&% a few extra steps to Starbucks. I got cussed out!

      • Robbie

        Jay, I bet you and Patti are a couple. Prosperous Republicans that met on Christian Mingle.com. Drive a big suv and park in the handicap parking spaces in front of Starbucks. Maybe I’ll question you two one day.

    • Patti

      Good!!!! you should have gotten cussed out. Mind your business, you dont know what a person has. I thought you would have learned your lesson as much as you get cussed out on this site, always commenting on people on the site instead of the topic at hand.

      • Patti

        You better think twice before you ever think about questioning me. You thought that lady cussed you out, you step to me and see what will happen.

    • Morning Dew

      Well, since you mentioned her lazy a&%, you should have been cussed at. Judging people is for people who have a lack of self-esteem.

  • Al

    There are ailments that you can’t see. How about Congestive Heart , Diabetes, COPD, and many more. If you have questions ask, but do it in a way that won’t get you cussed out. To many people can’ t get over others having something they don’t. Admit it, you don’t want to walk your fat a** any further than you have to. I would gladly trade health issues with you.

  • Gail

    My daughter who is 22 has Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI or brittle bone disease) & was given a handicapped placard by her doctor but rarely uses it. Once when she was parked in a parking garage at MCV/VCU (where she’s going to school) had an older couple pull in behind her & started screaming at her & had her to the point of tears because of her parking there. Thankfully security intervened in the situation & it didn’t get physical. But I can attest to the fact that people do get very tiffed when they see people who seem to be healthy parking in these spots. Just goes to show that you can’t always judge a book by its cover.

  • Kenny Powers

    They hand out those permits like candy. Most of the people I see that have them are just fat and lazy. There is a local factory here on Commerce Road that has well over a hundred handicapped spaces for employees that stand in front of a machine all day. Yes, I am sure some of you are going to say they can’t exercise because of their handicap. I wasn’t aware that a mobility issue means you have to stuff your face 24/7 until you are morbidly obese. What really gets me is the lazy fat people who insist that the fire lane is the place to park, while they block the entrance to the store. You can see their fat rolls oozing over the window sills….

    • Morning Dew

      “Most of the people I see that have them are just fat and lazy.” Wow Kenny, you know the medical condition of everyone you see. You must be a super hero.

      • Ron Melancon

        I do wounder all the time if they are really deserving of the parking spot. To be honest you do have people who pressure their doctor for the abused card. It is people who abused the privilege that give alot if us suspicion if they are abusing.
        It is the people who do not deserve the parking spot and lack of respect and enforcement that had created this mess. This is how you fix this. Make the fine 1,000. And you will see how quickly the abuse stops .
        And to the people who abuse or have fake ones shame on you .

  • Monica

    I have a temporary handicap parking placard because i had surgery on both feet in May. I am no longer wearing the boots or shoes from the surgeon, but my feel are still healing. I had someone key my car at work- no doubt because I “all of a sudden” starting parking in the handicap area. I decided to put a picture of my feet (day after surgery) in the dashboard whenever I use the tag. I figure if someone comes close enough to my car, they will see it.

  • Ron Melancon

    Anybody can make a handicapped parking sticker or buy it on E Bay and abuse the parking. Over 20% of all handicapped place cards are fake and the police don’t enforce it.

  • Ron Melancon

    Yes people under my observations at least 20% of handicapped place cards are abused period. It gives the people who are in need a bad rap. Police need to enforce the cheaters but they don’t just like are abused Antique Tag and the abused a Farm Tag

    • Aaron

      How can you tell if someone has a heart condition or something of that nature. You can look perfectly healthy and walk perfectly healthy but have a heart transplant or something of that nature and honestly need a handicap placard. Just because someone looks healthy does not mean that they are.

      • Tammie

        i so agree with you i do have a heart condition and to look at me you would not know it but get asked all the time why you parking in handicap spaces i do have a placard i have come to the point i just walk away i should not have to explain to anybody my medical cond

  • Glen Allen

    I think that enforcing laws should be left up to the police, but in an effort to deter people from abusing, or misusing HC parking spaces, I think the penalties should be tougher.

  • Jan

    Some people may not look disabled , but many people suffer from chronic pain. I do not have a disabled parking permit, but I need one. I’m one of those people that can’t walk far without having chronic pain due to spinal stenosis, 2 slipped disks and osteo in my lower spine, however, I look perfectly healthy but I am always in pain, just from standing in the grocery store line, or specifically after a long day at work. Can’t judge a book by it’s cover.

  • Kenny Powers

    Yeah Jan, and I am sure that extra 50 to 60 feet you save walking into the store makes a huge difference. While the paraplegic has to find somewhere else to park. Unless you are in a wheelchair you shouldn’t have a permit period. That’s why the symbol is a person in a wheelchair, not somebody waddling into a store to buy a twelve pack and Cheetos. Hope your SSI comes through.

    • Robin RN

      If I had a wheelchair and someone to push me around in it, I wouldn’t need to park in a handicapped spot. Also FYI, many people are overweight as a RESULT of their illnesses or disability. Unless you know the person, you don’t have enough information to judge what their disabilities are AND, unless you are disabled yourself and need a shorter distance to get from the parking lot to the building and you need the handicapped spot for your own needs, what business is it of yours anyway?

  • Hot rod

    Kenny is right most people are just too fat and lazy to walk. If they don’t get any exercise it just gets worse. These are the same people using the motorized carts in Walmart. Twenty years ago we didn’t have them and somehow “handicapped people” still got groceries.

  • John

    Virginia’s disabled parking permit qualifications are some of the most, if not the most, lax requirements of all the states. They are far from the federal guidelines: http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=1a5e7b242e59956bfac1f0571dc63226&node=23: So far there probably not within reciprocity agreements and other states probably shouldn’t accept Virginia disabled placards and plates.

    Compare Illinois’s form: http://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/publications/pdf_publications/vsd62.pdf to Virginia’s: https://www.dmv.virginia.gov/webdoc/pdf/med10.pdf Your video’s featured individuals would not qualify in Illinois.

    • Laura

      Actually, Jon, several of the disabilities listed on the Illinois application could not be visible to the average person. So your argument is rather a moot point.

  • Dee Cee

    The question should be do we really need expecting mothers and/or mothers with small children spaces….

  • Melissa

    I find it funny that when I visit my mom in the hospital and look for a van space, my daughter is in a power chair…..all I see are employees in nurse aide uniforms getting out of their cars. Employees at my job who work a physical labor job in the warehouse use theirs. It doesn’t make sense, at the bowling alley, EVERYONES bowling, but they NEED THAT SPOT. The ONLY reason I use one is because I need the space to load the wheelchair ramp off the side, they could put van spaces in the middle and I’d be ok walking, she’s rolling so it’s not hurting the person in the chair, maybe then all the stupid people who park their CARS in the VAN ACCESSIBLE spaces can fight to get closest. Van spaces are just wider FOR A VAN, not meant for cars, they should ticket cars, wether they have a tag or not

    • Ron Melancon

      Melissa you are exactly right. Because the Handicapped owners have not spoken out on the abuse and kept quiet you have the test of us questioning the Integrity of the system. Yes my data proves that about 20% of these are being abused period. It is about time we enforce this and fine the abusers and restore the program for what it is ment for .

  • Jill

    To all those “Mind Your Own Business” and “Don’t Judge” types. It’s not the judging you dislike, it’s a non supportive judgement. If someone pays you a complement, you are happy, but you were judged. Do your really want to live in a world where there is no judgement or only positive judgements?

  • krista

    The majority of the problem comes from other family members who illegally park and illegally use the placard. Enforcement will require catching the parker in the process of parking and making enquiries or waiting at the parked vehicle for the driver to come back and make enquiries. Not so easy when that wait could be six to eight hours.

    One employment group received complaints and contacted law enforcement assistance. Over the course of a day, numerous people were ticketed for being parked illegally and illegally using grandmas, daddy’s,mom’s, or even a deceased grandparents placard. For those of you who have the legitimate need, please educate your families not to abuse Your placard. Officers can seize the placard at the time it is caught being used illegally and you might not get it back.

  • Daniel

    If a caveman can get a placard or license plate..go get one and join the club. Do I have the right to assume you run red lights,cheat on income tax returns ( $ of deductions to Goodwil)l;drive above the posted speed limit;text while driving..because I think you look like the type that does? Stupid eh? The police have the right to question me, you do not! If in doubt call them..chill. Get that Placard!

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