MTYT: Misusing handicap parking spaces

By Gary McNair - bio|email

I am grateful.  I have two good legs and don't mind walking across a parking lot to go into a store.   But not everyone enjoys the ability to move about freely and easily.  That's why we have handicap parking spaces.  They are supposed to be for people who use walkers, crutches, wheel chairs, or have other mobility problems.  Yet, more and more, I see these spaces get used, and in my opinion, abused, by people who have a whole lot more spring in their step than I do.  Some have permits, and some do not.

First, I question if the person is breaking the law, and if they are, I hope they get caught.  But the bigger issue for me is what it says about the people who do this.  I think it is rude, heartless and cruel.  I know they think they are getting away with something.  But do they really think about the people these preferred spots were created for?  Do they care at all that because of their selfishness some eighty year-old crippled man has to struggle for 20 minutes to cross a parking lot to get to the same entrance that took them less than a minute.

What can we do about it?  Well, we can report abusers.  Hopefully they'll get arrested and fined.  And with a little less money weighing them down, they might be able to walk farther.

That's my turn.  Now it's your turn.  To comment on this segment, or anything else, email me at

Emailed comments from viewers:

i saw your show today about handi caped parking,,,,the real issue is,,so many people have these placards that are not really handi capped i know why do these people get these placards just because they have a bad back or for whatever silly reason,,i agree those spaces should be for the real handicapped person, one who has a walker or wheel chair,,the same goes for those motor carts in the stores,,,,,,,thank u for airing this issue


While I applaud your calling attention to non-handicapped people parking in a handicapped zone, I feel I must caution you on one of your observations.

My mother, rest her soul, was a small woman without a noticible handicap.  However, she had a severe heart condition that eventually ended up killing her almost three years ago.  My mother qualified for a handicapped placard, but refused to use it after a man commented to her that she "didn't look disabled to him".  Instead, she would walk from however far she had to park to the door of the grocery store, often arriving out of breath once she got there.

I think it is reprehensible for people to take advantage of these spaces; however, just because a person seems to us to not be disabled, does not mean that he or she is not, in fact, disabled "enough" to qualify for a closer parking spot.


I am in total agreement - these spaces are used too often, by people that have no excuse in using them, and there is no excuse in these people getting away with this.

How can I report this misuse, and who do I report this to?  Should I include pictures of them, their cars, and their license plates?

Another abuse and misuse of "non-available" parking spaces is the "no parking/fire zone" areas in front of stores, especially those in front of grocery stores.  I have often wanted to have a window sticker/sign, that I could place on the outside of their windshield - something that they could not ignore, and something that they would have to remove in order to see to drive.  An even more extreme, I thought about making a sign from "contact paper" that would take some effort to remove!!!  But that in itself might cause other problems!!!


Whenever this subject comes up I am reminded of a time when I went to Sam's.  It was pouring rain and naturally everyone was trying to park as close to the door as possible.  A couple in their 60's pulled into the last handicapped parking space, got out of their car and ran to the front door.   Down at the tire garage area I noticed a car pull in.

A young man struggled with his wheelchair and finally got to the front door.

Soaked to the bone.

Too bad those with the placards don't think first.  And may be the doctors should think about it a little


Yes I agree that this is an issue!

I am handicap myself by cancer and damage back. I am very limited on my walking; but I give up my chance to a handicap space to a elderly person that has a mobile chair or walker in the vehicle with them. I will park in a regular spot and my granddaughter will help me to a electric cart in the store.

I think the people that uses the placard that is issued to another person should be fine.


Dear Mr. McNair, Thank you so very much for addressing this problem we have in Wilmington. Needless to say, it happens every where. Just yesterday my wife and I went to the Rite Aid at the corner of Carolina Beach Rd. and Shipyard Blvd. to pick up my medicine and right beside us was a vehicle with NO tag, (handicap) and to make it worse, one of Rite Aids' employees came out and got into that car. I wanted to say something but these days one never knows what could happen. I am handicapped. Who do we contact and what info do we need when we contact some one ?


Mr. McNair, you have been sadly misinformed.  There are individuals, like myself who have "invisible" disabilities. Because the placard has a wheelchair on it does not mean that everyone needing a placard has to be in a wheelchair.  There are individuals with severe asthma that making walking long distances difficult.  There are individuals who have been diagnosed with emphysema and cant walk long distances and need a closer parking space.  There are also individuals like one of my best friends who has a placard who seemingly walks well but no one knows he has a prosthetic leg under his long pants that continually rub against his knee and he needs to get to a doctor but he can't afford it.  You would not know by looking at him that his knee bleeds whenever he walks.  And lastly, there are folks like me.  I have been diagnosed with chronic back pain and arthritis.  I am the person who everyone seems to hate.  But until you have felt the pain I have felt and gone through the surgeries I have and still without any relief, who are you to judge to say who is more deserving of a handicap placard.  The placard is for individuals with temporary or permanent disabilities --- seen or unseen.  They are not just for the elderly and not just for those in wheelchairs.  By the way, my uncle and grandfather (who are both in wheelchairs) say you are no advocate of theirs.

Choose your battles more wisely.

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