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Can I Use Grandma's Parking Permit?

Can I Use Grandma's Parking Permit?


My grandmother no longer drives, so I use her car. It has a disability parking permit, which allows me to park anywhere I want without paying. I feel a little guilty about it and thought maybe I should give it up. On the other hand, am I doing anything wrong by just leaving it there?


I can come up with several arguments in favor of keeping the permit, and only one argument in favor of giving it up.

Let's look at the arguments in favor of keeping the permit:

  • You already pay taxes, so why pay for parking?
  • You never claimed to be disabled. If the parking cops get the wrong idea, that's their problem.
  • Parking costs are highway robbery. It's a way for municipalities to get rich.
  • You often do errands for your grandmother with her car, so she is the one benefiting.
  • People use disability parking permits that don't belong to them all the time. The city knows this and allows for it in their budgeting.
  • The car still belongs to your grandmother, who rightfully had the disability permit. So why get rid of it? Do you need to purge the car of any trace of her? What if her music is still in the CD player, must you throw that away too?

But after all those arguments for keeping it, I can think of a single argument in favor of giving it up:

  • It is dishonest and probably illegal.

The human mind has an amazing talent. We take something that is clearly wrong, and come up with creative explanations as to why it is right. We call this talent “justification.” Almost everyone has a dishonest side, an inner voice that attempts to whitewash wrongdoing and justify immorality.

But we have another side to us that is honest and upright, the voice of integrity that wants to do what's right. After all the justifications, we know the truth.

The Torah (Deut. 6:18) tells us, "And you shall do what is proper and good..." You know what you need to do. Give up the permit. And thank G‑d that you don't need it.

Aron Moss is rabbi of the Nefesh Community in Sydney, Australia, and is a frequent contributor to
Sefira Ross is a freelance designer and illustrator whose original creations grace many pages. Residing in Seattle, Washington, her days are spent between multitasking illustrations and being a mom.
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Mitchell Hobbs Austin April 30, 2017

I say that you can keep the parking permit but only use the parking space reserved for the ~handicapped~ when she is with you~ Reply

Jaan Edison, NJ March 11, 2017

Illegal and Immoral It is actually illegal. If you use a disability permit that was not issued to you, you could get a ticket. It is also immoral, because you are taking up handicapped spaces that you don't need, using them up so that a disabled person may not have a place to park. Reply

Bryan Baruch CA March 9, 2017

As others here have said, the primary reason for not doing this is because it's not an innocuous act - it has victims. The limited number of disabled parking spaces are there for those who need them. When healthy, able-bodied people use them, it deprives those in genuine need of their use. And my brother, the cop, like many other cops, sees it as a serious offence that hurts society's most vulnerable people. He never lets it slide with a warning. It's his personal pet peeve. He gets seriously upset about it. You will get a ticket. Reply

Steve S Nassau Cty, NY via March 5, 2017

Disabled Pernit Using the permit without either a disabled driver or passenger in the vehicle is illegal, and in Nassau County it can get you a $250.00 fine. Not to mention it is morally , ethically and just plain wrong in any culture! Reply

R Wolberg March 3, 2017

Clarification of Misuse of Handicapped Parking Let me clarify my posting of March 1st.
The handicap placard is only for the person to whom it is issued. What many people do not know is that if you are handicapped and going to the store with someone who is not handicapped, you can only park in the handicapped spot if you go into the store. You are not allowed to park in the handicapped spot if your non handicapped passenger goes into the store. The purpose of handicapped parking is so that the handicapped individual will be as close to the store as possible. To park in the spot and stay in the car to allow your passenger the benefit is illegal and is called "Misuse of a handicapped spot" and carries a fine of $500 for "misuse" and $200 for illegally parking in a handicapped spot for a total of $700. In addition your handicapped placard will be pulled by the police and you may also have your license suspended. It is considered a very serious violation. Reply

Fruma Delray Beach, FL March 3, 2017

The most important reason for not cheating by using the handicap placard when you're not handicapped is not just that it's illegal or dishonest but that it's cruel. By taking up the handicap space, you prevent truly handicapped people from using it. But you know this already, or you wouldn't be asking. Reply

Aaron Chaim David Manchester March 2, 2017

Ask the parking authorities I witnessed a great story with the late Gateshead Rov zt"l. Someone brought him a train ticket, which said 'non transferable' and asked him if he may sell it to a friend. The Rov's answer was, "Ask British Rail!". Reply

Anonymous BC March 1, 2017

Parking pass Keep the pass for driving your grandmother, but don't use it
when only driving yourself. Reply

Anonymous March 1, 2017

I have a disabled license plate due to issues with my spine crushing nerve bundles.
There are days when I really need to use a parking spot for those with disabilities, however when I am having a "good day" I prefer not to use those spots and leave them for those who have the need. Reply

Nancy 2 Colorado March 1, 2017

handicapped parking permit If the person issued the permit is alive and the permit is good, I would keep it and use it only when she is with me. Other times I would not take up a handicapped space. Reply

Paul Montréal March 1, 2017

In our city, holders of a handicapped or disabled parking sticker are allowed to park in designated zones close to the entrance of hospitals, clinics, and stores. By using your grandmother's sticker to park in these areas, you may be taking the spot of someone who is legitimately disabled and needs the proximity. Reply

Nancy March 1, 2017

What a perfectly beautiful response! Thank you for your clarity and generosity in reminding us that it is never wrong to do the right thing. Reply

R. Wolberg Mass March 1, 2017

As a police officer, in my jurisdiction, misuse of a handicap placard carries a fine of $500 in addition to a $200 fine for parking in a handicapper spot for a total of $700. Reply

arthur killum redondo beach March 1, 2017

Parking Permit In California, the Disability Placard is issued for the benefit of the vehicle, not necessarily the driver. I learned this when I witnessed several young adults emerging from a car parked in a disabled/handicapped spot at the Skirball. They were all very healthy and ignored my urging to give up the spot. When I spoke to the parking enforcement officer, he informed me that the car could stay there as long as the placard was visible, legally issued and hadn't expired. Reply

WM Goldstein LA March 1, 2017

California Vehicle Code Section 4461 carries penalties up to
6 months in the county jail and a $1000 fine. Reply

Al Kipnis Richmond, CA March 1, 2017

many real reasons to stop the abuse of privilege Let us be brutally honest and call things what they are. You are taking a service, parking, but not paying what you rightfully owe. That is stealing. It is not a victimless crime. Not only are you avoiding the parking fee you should be paying, you are giving ammunition those who want to eliminate this needed program. They cite this sort of abuse as a reason to 'throw the baby out with the bath water.' Your actions are making life more difficult for those like me who have a real but hidden disability. We often get the anger vented toward us because they think we are abusing the system like you are.

I can give you one more powerful reason to stop: it is the right thing to do! Reply

Ann San Diego March 1, 2017

Yes, it is illegal. The person who is to use the disable parking also carries paperwork with them. If a person is asked by law enforcement to product the paperwork and can't do it, well.... Not only is it illegal to use the permit, but it is rude and inconsiderate. You may be taking a parking space from somebody who needs it. I am actually shocked that anybody would even pose such a question. Reply

Maryasha Schild February 28, 2017

LOL Thank you for that succinct, but powerful explanation XD. That was wonderfully humorous and honest ^-^ Reply

Susan Levitsky February 28, 2017

You didn't have to ask You know you can't use her permit because it is not ethical. Even if you are disabled, the permit belongs to the person to whom it was issued and nobody else can use it. As it is, there are usually too few handicap spaces.
If a policeman gives you a ticket for using it illegally, it can be anywhere from $50 to $150 plus community service in certain areas. Last but not least, the permit should not be hanging from the rearview mirror while you are driving because it obscures the view. If your grandmother is with you, it is legal to use the permit for a handicap parking space for her convenience. Reply

N February 25, 2017

It's also wrong because the person is taking away the disabled space of someone who genuinely needs it. Sometimes parents are given the permit if their child has a developmental disorder too. It makes it safer for them to get to the building when their child is likely to bolt without warning. Or an elderly person with a spouse who has a disability. It makes a huge difference when you are able to get to the building fast in these situations. Reply

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