Electric car drivers aren’t entitled to violate other laws, like handicapped parking

Access to charging stations is a fundamental need for electric vehicle drivers.  But does that mean an electric car driver can park in a handicapped spot just to access a charging station?  If the charging station is blocked, does that transfer rights to the electric car driver to violate the laws against parking in a handicapped spot?  Nope.

Good charging station etiquette is necessary for us all to share scarce charging station resources.  Unfortunately not everyone knows charging station etiquette, and while gasoline car drivers often block charging stations either purposely or out of ignorance, electric car drivers have been known to do so as well.  Electric car drivers sometimes “hog” a charging station all day long, even long after their car is charged, preventing others from using the station.

An illegally parked electric car
Source: Cars With Cords blog

The car shown here is blocking handicapped parking.  Specifically, the striped zone in handicapped parking is required for loading/unloading wheelchairs in those vehicles with the special wheelchair lifts.

According to the Cars With Cords blog post, the charging station is one spot to the right of this picture and was in use by an electric car.  The Leaf owner here maybe didn’t understand the significance of the handicapped spot, and parked next to the charging station.

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Doing so meant violating handicapped parking regulations.

The owner of the white van in the left of this picture had two sons, one in a wheelchair, and was frantically desperate to load up and drive away.  But her ability to do so was blocked by the Leaf owner who had violated the law.

As Patrick on the Cars With Cords blog wrote: It is NEVER ok to park in an ADA parking area unless you have an ADA permit. And it is NEVER ok to park in an ADA ramp access area for any reason.

That’s one perspective, and is certainly the legally correct perspective.  It’s easy to understand the possible plight of the red Leaf owner.  I’ve been in the situation of needing to charge, and the only charging station is blocked, and “oh look there’s an open handicapped spot available”.  Maybe, oh maybe, the building owner or others would look the other way and ignore the electric car parked in the handicapped spot.  In my case I wised up pretty quickly and realized that wouldn’t fly.

Owning an electric car might give one a feeling of “entitlement,” that you’re “doing good” for society, and society owes you some perks like access to HOV lanes, free charging stations, etc.  It’s a slippery slope and can lead one into rationalizing away a legal violation that could result in a fine and/or your car towed away.

The fact is that we electric vehicle owners have the same status as everyone else – suffering in silent desperation to make sense of an insane world.  Yes the situation we face as electric vehicle owners is imperfect.  Violating the law, though, will make our situation worse if the others who still drive gasoline cars start to see us as feeling overly entitled brats.

About David Herron

David Herron is a writer and software engineer living in Silicon Valley. He primarily writes about electric vehicles, clean energy systems, climate change, peak oil and related issues. When not writing he indulges in software projects and is sometimes employed as a software engineer. David has written for sites like PlugInCars and TorqueNews, and worked for companies like Sun Microsystems and Yahoo.

About David Herron

David Herron is a writer and software engineer living in Silicon Valley. He primarily writes about electric vehicles, clean energy systems, climate change, peak oil and related issues. When not writing he indulges in software projects and is sometimes employed as a software engineer. David has written for sites like PlugInCars and TorqueNews, and worked for companies like Sun Microsystems and Yahoo.

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