Toronto police crack down on accessible parking permit abuse
Over a thousand permits seized during last year's crackdown
Toronto police are cracking down on drivers abusing the accessible parking permit system this week, after catching around three people per day misusing the permits during a similar effort last year.
Police said they've previously confronted those using other people's permits, or even using counterfeit documents.
"There's a number of excuses that you'll get, whether it's 'I just dropped them off' or 'I'm just picking them up right now,'" parking enforcement officer Tom Munroe told CBC News.
At the moment, there are more than 118,000 active accessible parking permits in the city, which allow drivers to access designated spaces and exempt them from being ticketed in no-parking zones. Permit holders must be present in the car when the permit is being used or drivers can face fines of between $300 and $5,000.
In 2015, Toronto police seized over a thousand permits because of misuse.
That can be major inconvenience to permit holders who need the exemptions most.
"We feel it's a real privilege to have this permit and we get really upset when people use it who shouldn't," said Sue Walsh, whose elderly mother has a permit.
Walsh drives her mother to her appointments and uses the permit to take her shopping. People abusing the system and taking those parking spots "takes away the advantage of being able to help someone who is really handicapped," Walsh said.
That's why police are stepping up the pressure over the next two weeks — in the hope of both catching those who abuse the permits and so that those who use them legitimately aren't fined unnecessarily.
"It just depends on the situation but we'll always go to the distance there if they say they are just dropping the person off. We'll always make an offer to go and help them locate the permit holder," Munroe said.
Last month the provincial government introduced permits with enhanced security features in an effort to prevent misuse.
Almost 700,000 permits are currently in circulation across Ontario.