Drivers can now forget excuses
A crackdown on parking infringements means people won't be able to use their record of "good behaviour" to avoid fines. Photo: Elesa Lee
Drivers will not be able to use past ''good behaviour'' as an excuse to try and escape punishment for illegally using disabled parking spaces, under guidelines issued by the ACT government.
The ''good behaviour'' claim will also be abolished for a range of other traffic infringements, including stopping in or near intersections, children's crossings, pedestrian crossings or contrary to a ''no stopping'' sign.
Attorney-General Simon Corbell has told the road transport authority to stop considering a person's previous good behaviour as a possible reason to withdraw infringement notices for disabled parking and some other road offences.
However, the authority will still have the power to recognise previous good behaviour in certain cases when it is asked to review an infringement notice.
Infringements or convictions for other road offences in the previous five years can be taken into account.
A spokesman for Mr Corbell said that it was not appropriate for prior good behaviour to be used to excuse non-compliance with some road rules.
''For example, given the need to ensure access to disability parking spaces for people with limited mobility, it is not considered appropriate to allow a person to rely on prior good behaviour to avoid liability for parking in a disability parking space if they do not have a permit,'' the spokesman said.
People could still apply for fines to be waived for other reasons, such as parking illegally due to an emergency.
Advocacy for Inclusion's general manager Christina Ryan said making it harder for people to escape punishment should help deter inappropriate use of disabled parking spaces.
''People who think I'll only be there for five minutes, and of course their five minutes might prevent somebody else from being able to get out of their vehicle at all,'' Ms Ryan said.
''It is a good message and I think disability organisations and people with disabilities will be very supportive of that.''
But she said it would not resolve the problem of people who had disabled parking for an elderly relative but decided to use it when that person was not in the vehicle.
Ms Ryan said disability groups had consistently lobbied governments for tougher penalties for disabled parking infringements to help ensure that parking spaces were available for the people who needed the most.
The guidelines issued by Mr Corbell also set out criteria to be used when the transport authority considered waiving fines because of a medical emergency. A statutory declaration and a medical certificate or police report would be required. When deciding whether the infringement notice should be withdrawn because of an emergency medical situation the authority may consider the alleged offender's access to alternative transport, the guidelines said.