Respect privilege

It’s not easy going through life with a disability. Fortunately, people with disabilities get an occasional privilege. One of them is the use of disabled person parking spaces. It helps make one small aspect of life a little easier.

Nonetheless, the privileges need to be respected. When taken for granted, the person doesn’t appreciate the privilege. When a person has a sense of entitlement to privileges, it leads those without them to begrudge the privileged. So even a person with challenges in life and few privileges should take care not to abuse them.

When Bob Shatney, a paraplegic man, was being cited for parking in a disabled person parking space, he was surprised. Even though he had neither a disabled person placard nor disabled person license plates, Shatney felt he should not be cited.

Shatney had just bought a new car, so he did not have his disabled person plates yet. But Shatney also qualifies for a disabled person placard. He could use the placard until the plates arrived. Instead, Shatney felt that having his wheelchair in the back seat and hand controls for driving entitled him to use the disabled person parking space, even though the law said otherwise.

The law says that the disabled person placard must be displayed when parking in a disabled person parking space. In fact, it says that the person must show the registration for the placard when a law officer makes the request. The law does so for a couple of reasons. One is that abuse of disabled person placards is rampant. Another is that many people have “invisible disabilities” where you cannot see that they have a disability by observing them walking from their car parked in a disabled person parking space.

There is no exception in the law for people with wheelchairs or for having hand controls in their car. If there were, some people without a disability would find yet more ways to take advantage of disabled person parking. The law protects the privilege of the driver or passenger with a disability. It should be respected by the beneficiaries of the privilege.

As for Shatney, his citation was canceled. Because he demonstrated that he had the legal right to use disabled person parking, the local police sergeant canceled the citation. That’s fair to Shatney, but it was also fair that he was cited in the first place.

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