By Sahar Adatia and Jimmy Singh.
It’s hard to believe but lurking among us are egocentric drivers who have no issues with their mobility yet still think it’s completely normal and even acceptable to park their vehicle in a disabled space.
Indeed, one may argue that drivers of this kind are a special breed – both selfish and stupid.
But then there’s the outright brazen.
Take for example a tradesman in Brisbane who decided he would unashamedly park his vehicle in a disabled bay at Bunnings reserved purely for those with a permit, then went on a rampage to assault a woman because she was filming him in the illegal act.
Making matters even more brash, the man told police that he “accidentally” parked in the disabled bay.
“Don’t Take F***ing Pictures of Me”: How the Incident Unravelled
The incident is reported to have taken place on December 17 last year when Ventzislav Branimirov Kostov decided to take a trip to Bunnings in Springfield Central in the south of Brisbane.
The 29-year-old tradesman decided he would park his Mitsubishi Pajero in the bay outside the store, which is reserved for those with a disability permit.
As Mr Kostov parked, a female shopper happened to catch sight of him illegally parking and questioned why he was using the disabled spot without a permit.
Nevertheless, the man turned away, instead strolling straight into the hardware store, all while the woman began taking photos of him.
Noticing the woman, Mr Kostov then suddenly lashed out, screaming at her, “Don’t take f***ing pictures of me”.
He approached her and smashed her phone out of her hand.
The assault left the woman’s phone destroyed.
Meanwhile, Mr Kostov simply drove away.
Mr Kostov Faces Ipswich Magistrates Court Over Disabled Parking Attack
In July 2020, Mr Kostov faced Ipswich Magistrates court over the matter.
During the hearing, Prosecutor Senior Constable Bernard Elmore said officers tracked the man down three days later and was questioned about the incident.
Mr Kostov told officers the assault was not intentional and that he merely “tapped” the woman by accident while he stepped into his car.
“He said he was getting into his vehicle and tapped her phone. He did not want the person to photograph near his face,” Senior Constable Elmore said.
Meanwhile, Mr Kostov’s defence lawyer said his client had tried to settle the disagreement with the woman verbally before the assault.
Magistrate Maintains Difficulty in Accepting Mr Kostov Parked in Disabled Bay “By Accident”
During Mr Kostov’s sentencing, Magistrate David Shepherd established the man had “no right” to attack the woman for taking photos of him.
He also upheld the difficulty in believing Mr Kostov parked in the spot by accident.
“I do have difficulty accepting that you parked there by accident. It appears to have caused her to become upset which is not an uncommon concern with people,” Magistrate Shepherd said.
Along with illegally parking in a disability bay without a permit, Mr Kostov also pleaded guilty to common assault and doing wilful damage to a mobile phone.
He was fined and received no conviction.
How Selfish Drivers Who Park in Disabled Spaces Without a Permit Impact the Community
When selfish drivers who do not have a mobility issue park in disabled spaces, the hundreds of thousands of people who do have a permit suffer as this makes it harder for them to be part of the community.
In 2018, some 300,000 individuals had valid disability permits – meaning those drivers who parked illegally were taking spaces away from a significant segment of the population.
In fact, statistics show that more than 15,000 times each year, selfish motorists are fined for parking in disabled spaces across NSW.
Taking a space away from a disabled person has the potential to disrupt them both physically and even emotionally.
Without a space to park comfortably, this restricts their access to the community and jobs, and sometimes forces them to abandon their plans altogether.
Moreover, it can cause anxiety about going out to certain venues where parking is difficult to find, with the possibility also to trap them in a space and force them to wait for an offending driver to return.
Penalties for Illegally Parking in a Disabled Spot or Using a Disability Parking Permit in NSW
In NSW, clause 203 of the Road Rules 2014 advises that unless you hold & display a current parking permit for people with disabilities, and you are complying with the conditions of use of the permit, it’s against the law to stop your vehicle in a parking area for people with disabilities.
This offence, if dealt with in a local court, attracts a fine of up to $2,200.
Alternatively, section 650(1) of the Local Government Act 1993 (NSW) prescribes up to $1,100 fine if dealt with in court, if a driver of a vehicle parks in a disabled parking area illegally (without displaying the required permit or in non-compliance with the conditions of the permit, if displayed).
If you are caught breaching these rules in NSW, you can receive a whopping on-the-spot fine or penalty notice of $581 and one demerit point (in which case by paying the fine, you will not be required to attend court).
Clause 111 of the Road Transport (General) Regulation 2013 (NSW) prohibits a person in charge of a vehicle from displaying a mobility parking scheme authority in or on the vehicle in contravention of any conditions of the scheme authority.
It also prohibits the holder of such scheme authority from permitting another person to have possession of or access to the scheme authority if the holder suspects or should reasonably suspect that the other person will use it in contravention of any of its conditions.
If you’re in breach of these rules, you will face a maximum penalty of up to $2,200 if dealt with in court. However, this offence is also a penalty notice offence, which means, instead of being required to attend court, it attracts an on-the-spot fine or penalty notice of $697. If paid, it puts an end to the matter.
Like all penalty notice offences, you may choose to not pay it, and instead elect to go to court to either dispute it or to plead guilty and seek leniency in an effort to avoid the fine and any demerit points. This type of penalty outcome can only be achieved by getting a non-conviction sentence under section 10 in NSW.
Have a question? Get in touch with our criminal lawyers in Blacktown. We also have offices in Sydney and Parramatta.