Drivers in Warrawong and Corrimal are among the worst when it comes to illegally parking in disabled spaces.
According to figures from Revenue NSW, the two worst postcodes for able-bodied people are 2500 and 2529.
Those postcodes include the Wollongong and Shellharbour CBD and shopping areas, so a large number of fines would not be unexpected.
In the 2500 postcode for the 2017-18 financial year, 391 people were fined a total of $211,531.
The Shellharbour area postcode was second, with 347 fines totalling $187,727.
The Warrawong and Corrimal areas – which do include smaller shopping centres – rank third and fourth on the list.
Warrawong is part of the 2502 postcode where $121,184 in fines came from 224 people taking up disabled parking spots.
The 2518 postcode, which includes Corrimal, saw 54 drivers nabbed for a total of $29,214.
On the other side of the equation there were three postcodes that recorded no disabled parking fines – 2517 (Woonona), 2519 (Balgownie/Fairy Meadow) and 2525 (Figtree).
Parking in a disabled space without the appropriate permit can be a very expensive mistake – it comes with a $549 fine and one demerit point.
It also causes problems for those drivers or passengers with wheelchairs, who need the extra width offered by a disabled space to get in or out of their chair.
For them, using a normal space simply isn’t an option so if others have taken up the disabled spaces, a person in a wheelchair just can’t get out of their car.
It’s something Steve Petrolati has experienced more and more frequently.
The Towradgi resident – who has been in a wheelchair since 1986 – shops at the Lederer Shopping Centre at Corrimal.
That’s when he can find a parking space.
“I’ve driven there and had to drive home because all the disabled parking spaces have been taken,” Mr Petrolati said.
“It’s happening more and more regularly. I have to try and go in the evening when it’s quieter, when there’s less people out.”
Mr Petrolati said the problem of people parking illegally is compounded by an increase in the number of disabled permits being issued.
“The criteria has become so lenient now for someone to qualify for a mobility parking permit that it’s totally up the discretion of a general practitioner whether the person can walk 100 metres,” he said.
“So people who can walk are being given disabled parking permits. They don’t need the width that a wheelchair user needs.”