There are a range of parking facilities available to people with disabilities in towns and cities throughout Ireland. Disabled parking bays are slightly wider than an average parking space to allow for easy access. They are always located in "prime" parking spots beside building entrances, in city/town centres, etc. These parking bays are clearly marked for use by disabled people by both signs and road markings. (Road markings normally consist of the "accessibility" symbol).
Although local authorities have no legal obligation to provide parking bays for people with disabilities, a certain number of spaces are available in all local authority on-street parking, local authority car parks and public building car parks. The location of these spaces will be laid down in local authority bye-laws. Information about the location of disabled parking spaces may be available online or you can contact your local authority.
Commercial premises like supermarkets and shopping centres have no legal obligation to provide disabled parking facilities for their customers. Building regulations have specific requirements about the indoor facilities for people with disabilities and the approach to a building (e.g., a ramp to allow wheelchair access) but the external environment of a building (e.g., parking facilities) is not covered by any legislation. Planning permission will not be refused if disabled parking facilities are not included in a planning application. However, local authority planners may recommend that parking spaces for disabled people be made available and a condition can be attached to the application requiring the builder and architect to include these facilities.
Local authorities around the country operate a strong policy of enforcement regarding spaces reserved for people with disabilities. A fixed charge parking fine of €80 will be issued to drivers without a valid European Parking Card who park their cars in disabled parking spaces. In areas where clamping is in operation (Dublin, Cork and Galway), cars parked illegally in these spaces will be clamped and the fee for release will be €80 or more.
Private car park operators are responsible for policing the use of designated disabled parking bays in their own car parks and cars parked illegally in these bays may be clamped. Fees for release will vary depending on the operator. Gardai and traffic wardens will not issue tickets for cars illegally parked in disabled parking spaces in a private car park.
Each accessible parking space is designated as reserved by a vertically mounted or suspended sign showing the symbol of accessibility.
The Road Traffic Act 2002 introduced a fixed charge system for common parking offences. The fixed charge system came into effect in April 2006. A fixed-charge fine for misuing a disabled parking spaces is €80 with 28 days to pay. If unpaid in that timeframe, the fine increases to €120 with a further 28 days to pay. Both traffic wardens and the Gardai may issue these parking fines. Drivers are also obliged to show evidence if requested of a European Parking Card and a traffic warden or Garda may inspect the Card.
You must have a valid European Parking Card prominently displayed on your windshield to use a disabled parking bay. The card will show the signature and photograph of the holder and is available from the Irish Wheelchair Association or the Disabled Drivers Association.
Disabled parking places can only be used if the card holder (the disabled person) is driving or travelling in the car. Able-bodied relatives or friends may not use this card for their own benefit. If you park in a local authority disabled parking space, a traffic warden or Garda may ask to see your European Parking Card. If you or your passengers cannot produce this card or if the card is in someone else's name, a fixed charge parking fine of €80 may be imposed.
European Parking Cards (also known as Disabled Parking Permits) can be used by disabled people within the 28 member states of the EU. If you are visiting Ireland or are from outside of the EU you should bring your Disabled Parking Permit/European Parking Card with you. Your Disabled Parking Permit/European Parking Card should be visibly displayed in your parked car.
Private car parks will generally have parking spaces available for people with disabilities, as will car parks for shopping centres, supermarkets, universities, hotels and hospitals. To use these spaces, you will need the European Parking Card. If there are time limits imposed in these car parks, they may not apply to people with disabilities. The conditions of parking should be clearly stated on signs.
Having a valid European Parking Card does not guarantee you a parking space if none is available.
If you have a valid European Parking Card, the disabled parking spaces provided by local authorities are free of charge and no time limits will apply to your parking. Some private car parks may charge for use of a disabled parking space, but this will vary depending on the operator.
Some local authorities have lists of disabled parking spaces available on their web sites. If you are unsure of the parking facilities available to you, you should telephone ahead to your destination. The local authority in the area you will be travelling to, will be able to give you information on the type of disabled parking facilities available in its area.
The parking card scheme is administered by the Disabled Drivers Association and the Irish Wheelchair Association.
If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.