As demand for parking spaces increases, NSW authorities are seeing a rise in motorists using disabled car parking spaces illegally.
As a result of driver behaviour, the NSW government has announced a tough approach to crackdown on this conduct.
New month, new penalty
From December 1, drivers who are caught parking in a disabled parking space without the valid mobility parking accreditation will receive a demerit point penalty. This penalty will be on top of the existing $519.00 fine, which is the highest fine for this type of offence in the country.
Minister for Roads and Freight Duncan Gay labelled drivers who take disabled car spaces as both "irresponsible" and "rude".
"I have made it very clear I'm outraged by able bodied people who steal disabled car parks just to make their life easier," he said.
"These people selfishly deny vulnerable members of our community close access to buildings and sufficient room to get in and out of their vehicles - they are low lifes, simple."
Demerits to affect drivers in other ways
Mr Gay noted that the demerit point will apply regardless of whether the offence takes place on a public road or in a car park. He also stated that it could impact drivers through the loss of discounted drivers licence renewal fees and through higher green slip premiums.
"Drivers who think about parking illegally in disabled car parks need to know the demerit point penalty can contribute towards licence suspension," he explained.
"The demerit point will hopefully help people use their moral compass and think twice before choosing to park their vehicles illegally in a disabled car park."
Members of the public or disabled car park users can report abuse to the NSW Mobility Parking Scheme.
Blacktown: An example of why the crackdown is required
A recent news article from the Daily Telegraph highlighted exactly why the demerit point system is required.
A Blacktown Council spokeswoman explained it had issued over 1,000 fines last year for drivers parking in disability spaces.
"Council officers regularly patrol the carpark at Rainbow Shopping Centre in (Rosenthal St) Doonside for the purposes of enforcing the reserved parking spaces," the spokeswoman told the newspaper in a November 18 article.
"Council employs a full-time parking officer who is dedicated to enforcing parking rules in shopping centre carparks throughout the city."
What is the Mobility Parking Scheme?
According to Roads and Maritime Services, the Mobility Parking Scheme issues parking concessions to people with mobility disabilities. Each person is given a licence-style card with their picture and details. About 800,000 in Australia have such a parking permit.
There are two types of permits available in NSW. There is the individual (blue card) version which can be issued for up to five years to a people with permanent disability, while the temporary (red card) version is issued for up to six months.