New threat to drivers who steal disabled parking spots
HEARTLESS drivers who take disability car parking spaces could be slugged with new demerit point penalties on top of existing fines.
News Queensland can reveal Transport Minister Mark Bailey will look at introducing tougher penalties for motorists who illegally use the designated spaces.
In Queensland, an accumulation of 12 demerit points, which are issued for a range of offences, in a three-year period could result in a motorist's license being suspended.
It comes as new figures reveal nearly 140 motorists every month are slapped with fines for illegally poaching parks reserved for people with disabilities.
"Illegal behaviour by drivers who deny disability permit holders their parking bays to access local services is arrogant and reprehensible," Mr Bailey said.
"I'm happy to take up the issue of demerit point penalties with my department and discuss options, in consultation with our transport accessibility reference groups."
Police and Brisbane City Council parking officers have issued at least 3900 fines of up $261 to offending motorists since January 2016.
Hot spots include Market and Edward streets in the city as well as McDougall St in Milton and Lower River Tce at South Brisbane.
Elisha Wright from the No Permit No Park campaign group is hopeful Queensland will follow NSW, where demerit points have been imposed since 2014.
"There have been a number of surveys about fines versus demerit points and all of them have pretty much concluded that people fear losing a demerit point more than they do having to pay a fine," she said.
"If other states can do it, there's no reason that Queensland can't."
Michelle O'Flynn, director of Queensland Advocacy Incorporated, also backed the demerit point move, saying it might be the only deterrent for some.
"It's that insensitive, it's that uncaring and that callous, so yes, get tough on them," she said.
"A lot of people with disabilities do the same things in life as everyone else and if their only access is through an accessible car park, then that's diminished when people steal them."
LNP transport spokesman Steve Minnikin said they supported fining motorists who parked illegally, but believed demerit points should only be used for road safety offences.
RACQ's head of technical and safety policy Steve Spalding said they would prefer to see better enforcement "given the low number of drivers illegally parking in disabled spots".
"We're also unlikely to support issuing of demerit points for this offence because demerit points should be a penalty for road safety-related issues," he said.