Calls for the prosecution of those who park in spaces reserved for disabled people

Offenders may think again `if they came out and found a €150 fine on their windscreen’

Gardaí and traffic wardens should be allowed to impose fines on people parking illegally in spaces reserved for disabled people at private car parks in shopping centres, educational institutions, hospitals, and other spaces, the Disabled Drivers Association of Ireland (DDAI) has said.

Launching its BayWatch campaign at Dublin’s Dundrum Town Centre on Monday, it highlighted the ongoing abuse of disabled parking bays in general and called for greater enforcement of existing regulations.

A nationally representative survey by Coyne Research, carried out in tandem with the DDAI, highlighted the general lack of knowledge by the public about existing legislation around private car parks as well as among disabled drivers themselves.

It found that as many as 42 per cent of those surveyed believe a traffic warden or garda can issue a parking fine to someone parked in a disabled parking bay in a private car park. Some 74 per cent had seen disabled parking bays being abused by non-badge holding drivers on a regular or occasional basis.


A separate survey of 800 DDAI members found that a third (33 per cent) were unaware that the gardaí do not have the powers to impose fines on illegal parking in private bays. Over 81 per cent of DDAI members had seen disabled parking bays being abused,

Meanwhile 7-in-10 of those surveyed by Coyne Research said that those who illegally park in disabled parking bays should face prosecution, and face not just fines, while 95 per cent in the DDAI survey said that those who illegally parked in accessible bays should face prosecution.

DDAI communications and marketing manager Richard Ryder said their BayWatch campaign had been launched “to tackle the anomaly in the current legislation whereby those parking illegally in accessible bays in private car parks are allowed to get away with it”.

He continued that “it should not be left solely to the private car park owners to manage the problem. Our research has shown that such a move has the backing of the public, who also support the prosecution of illegal parkers not just the handing out of fines.”

The DDAI urged local authorities “to be more proactive in enforcing existing regulations and, crucially, in verifying parking permits. Almost 70 per cent of our members said their disabled parking permit had never been inspected either by traffic wardens, the gardaí, or private car park operators and 96 per cent of our members want more action in tackling disabled parking bay abuse,” he said.

DDAI member Aisling Grouden from Dunshaughlin, Co Meath has been driving since she was 21 and has relied on her car to attend college, for her job at a local school as well as for shopping and general independence. “I never knew until now that traffic wardens and gardaí weren’t allowed issue tickets in places like supermarkets, shopping centres and colleges and I am certainly not alone in wanting to see the law changed on this,” she said.

It would “make a huge difference to people’s willingness to chance parking in accessible parking bays in these places without a permit, if they came out and found a €150 fine on their windscreen”, she said.

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is Religious Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times