Is This Able-Bodied Woman Entitled to Handicapped Parking?

Janice Eberle, feeling put-upon over a $300 fine for parking in a handicapped parking space, is suing the town that issued the ticket.

Itís not that she wasnít parked in a handicapped parking space — she admits she was.

Itís not that she actually did possess a handicapped parking placard — she admits she did not.

Itís not that she has a disability — no, not that either.

So what is her defense? Well, her arm was in a sling from recent surgery; she was on medication; she has a huge scar; it was raining; she was only going to be there for a few minutes; and it was unavoidable.

Now sheís complaining that the fine is too high. And Iím guessing the dog ate her homework, too.

The woman was obviously having a very bad day. Thatís about as much empathy I can muster up; I suspect she is a bit empathy-deficient herself.

Where to begin…

Handicapped parking spaces provide access for people with impaired mobility or a condition that creates a safety concern. We donít get to diagnose this ourselves; a doctor must attest to the disability.

Having had shoulder surgery myself — twice — I can confirm the level of pain and discomfort she must have been in, but neither the surgery nor the sling impact mobility.

Her complaint about being on medication leads one to wonder if she should have been driving at all. The scar… well, thatís just silly.

Iím sure the rain was inconvenient and she only intended to be there for a few minutes, but her assertion that it was ďunavoidableĒ is preposterous. It was entirely avoidable.

Handicapped parking spaces exist to enable people with disabilities to lead independent lives. Sometimes the disability is apparent, sometimes it is not, but either way it doesnít apply to Ms. Eberle.

There is only one rule for people who do not qualify for a handicapped parking placard:

  • Never park in a handicapped parking place — under any circumstances. Leave it for those for those who truly need it. Be thankful that you donít need one and hope that you never will. Itís that simple.

I received a handicapped parking placard in 2004. I have relapsing/remitting multiple sclerosis and sometimes have great difficulty with stamina and with walking more than a few yards at a time. The key word in that sentence is ďsometimes.Ē

Grateful for the placard, but keenly aware of my ďsometimesĒ status, I set some rules for myself so that I wouldnít take advantage:

  • I will use the placard only if mobility or stamina are an issue.
  • I will never try to justify using the placard for the wrong reasons.
  • I will never lend it to anyone.
  • I will remove it from the rear view mirror when driving, for safety reasons.
  • I will never apologize for needing it or using it.
  • I will always support the rights of people with disabilities.

That placard has been with me for six years and Iíve never misused it, even when the temptation was there.

I just had shoulder surgery… Iím in pain… Iím having a rotten day… itís raining… Iíll only be a minute… yes, Iíve walked in Janice Eberleís shoes, but I did it from a regular parking space.

Do you think it is ever okay for someone without a placard to use a handicapped parking space? Please take a moment to participate in the poll below. If you answer yes, please leave a comment and tell us why.

Writer Ann Pietrangelo embraces the concept of personal responsibility for health and wellness. As a person living with multiple sclerosis, she combines a healthy lifestyle and education with modern medicine, and seeks to provide information and support to others. She is a regular contributor to Care2 Causes. Follow on Twitter @AnnPietrangelo.

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Marilyn J Leger
Marilyn L5 years ago

Should she even have been driving while under medication?

Helle H.
Helle H5 years ago

No exuseces for that woman. If she's feels too handicapped to park in a normal parkingspace she could have found a place, where she wouldn't haven't taken up the space for someone who really needs it. My husband could have needed such a parking some years ago, but then I always went with him, got a shoppingchart he could support himself by. It could take him ages to get to the shop, but he wasn't handicapped enough to get a placard, whidh I'm grateful for. He would never take up the space that's really needed.

Jennifer P.
Jennifer P5 years ago

I am sorry she had a bad day, but she has no excuse. She probably should have been driving while on medication, or if one of her arms was out of use, I really believe you need 2 hands for driving.

I hope to never need a placard, temporary or otherwise. My dad was injured falling off a roof, and I'm glad they had a temporary card, because the injury was sensitive to cold (metal plates in both arms get chilled fast) and in winter, in Alaska, it was sometimes a blessing to have it, when his wrists and hands were too swollen to wear mittens or gloves.

I appreciate your self-imposed rule to always take the card down when driving. It is really not much of an effort to reach up and remove a large obstuction from your field of view.

Linda Clarkson Pressman

She was wrong she should pay her fine and not was court time!!!

Michele Wilkinson

Thank you

Sue H.
Sue H5 years ago

Nothing irks me more to see some able bodied jerk pull into a disabled spot. How callous.

carol l.
carol l5 years ago

I smetimes question too whn I see people boppig around getting in and ou of a car w9ith usually the placard, not the license plate. That is the downside of the placard, you are supposed to prove you arein the car registered to the pacard but I sincerely doubt that hapens often, if at all. That being said I do not look handicapped but I am. I am sure some people look at me askance and I have been talked to in a very naty way by someo who decided because I don;t have cane or walker I have no handicap. We do have toi be careful inremember tha some people ave heart, lung, etc issues that have caused their handicap and the need for the parking space and placard.

Carol Jay Levy
author A PAINED LIFE, a chronic pain journey
Women In Pain Awareness Group!/groups/111961795481256/
The Pained Life, 30 years, and counting.
accredited to the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities member U.N. NGO group, Persons With Disabilities
(I post my signature so you see my bona fides for handicapped issues)

Donna Pulous
Donna Pulous5 years ago

My husband has been disabled all his life, born with it and we do not park in a handicap spot, even though we should get the placard and do it.I personally question a lot of these people I see in these spots.And no I don't think just because you're elderly you deserve to park there either.

Lynn C.
Lynn C5 years ago


Elaine A.
Elaine Al Meqdad5 years ago

If you are truly disabled and have the proper placard, then you deserve that spot. If you are found to not have proof of a handicap nor a placard then you in no uncertain terms better not be in that spot unless you are willing to pay a sever fine...And rightfully so!