Although you have a blue badge for your car, you might be completely unaware as to what it does or doesn’t entitle you to do.
If you’re a disabled driver, the blue badge can prove itself to be an incredibly trusty companion. It allows you to park closer to a destination, whether you’re a passenger or the driver, and is usually issued by your local authority for a period of three years. It costs £10.
If you receive a mobility allowance, you may be automatically eligible for a blue badge. However, if you have an allowance which ends before the three-year period ends, your badge will fall in line with this.
Do I qualify for a badge?
In order to qualify, the applicant must be over two years old.
There are five reasons you will automatically qualify:
- You receive a War Pensioner’s Mobility supplement
- You have been given a sum by the Armed Forces and Reserve Forces Compensation Scheme and have been registered with a substantial and permanent disability
- You are registered blind
- You receive a higher rate of the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
- You get a Personal Independence Payment which shows an eligible descriptor of the ‘moving around’ activity of the mobility component.
You may also be entitled to own a blue badge if you:
- Have a substantial or permanent disability that means you can’t or it’s very difficult to walk
- Have a terminal illness which interferes with your ability to walk and has led to you being issued with a DS1500
- Regularly drive a vehicle and have severe disabilities with your arms.
How difficult is the application process?
If you’re automatically eligible, the application is relatively straightforward and you can fill in the form online, or by contacting your local council. If not, you’ll be required to fill in an additional section on the form. You should hear back from your local authority within six to eight weeks; you may be asked to do a mobility assessment or to send extra information before you are granted the badge. If, for whatever reason, you are refused, you can ask for the decision to be reconsidered.
If you’re applying for yourself, make sure to have your National Insurance number to hand. Alternatively, if it’s for an infant, you will require a child reference number.
If you already have a driving licence, you must provide your details alongside the number, local council and expiry date on your current blue badge – if you own one. Other documents required are:
- proof of identification
- up-to-date photograph of the intended badge holder
- proof of address
- if you’re automatically eligible, your original decision letter from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).
Displaying the badge correctly
The onus of ensuring the badge can clearly be seen by wardens lies with you. The best way to do this is by placing it on the dashboard or fascia panel so that it can be read through your front windscreen. Your photograph should not be visible, and you should ensure that all details remain legible.
Others using the badge
The badge can be used in any vehicle as long as you are either driving or a passenger. Misuse is illegal – if the badge is used without you in attendance, the user could be fined up to £1,000 and the badge may be confiscated. If you are a passenger, it’s your responsibility to make sure that the driver is aware of any rules.
It is illegal to give the badge to a family member or friend, regardless of whether they are using to come and visit you.
Where to use it
Unlike an emergency vehicle, simply owning a blue badge doesn’t give you free rein on where you can park and, if you’re not the driver, you must make sure whoever is behind the wheel also knows this.
It is only intended for on-street parking, with off-street car parks such as supermarkets spaces being governed by separate rules. You must make sure you don’t park anywhere which could cause an obstruction or be a danger to other road users. Doing so may result in a Penalty Charge Notice being handed out, or worse yet your vehicle may be removed.
Holding a Blue Badge, does, however, allow you to park on single or double yellow lines for up to three hours as long as you’re not blocking any loading or unloading areas. It’s vital that you display your blue parking clock for any wardens to see what time you arrived.
Similarly, if you come across an area which is littered with pay-and-display machines or parking metres, you are allowed to park for free for as long as you wish. This also goes for disabled parking bays, unless it states otherwise.
Different regions within the UK do in fact have different laws and regulations. Therefore, it’s important to realise that if you travel outside of England, but still within the UK, you must check what the country’s concessions are with the relevant authority. The same goes for travelling in London – check with Transport for London for further information. This is due to the fact the scheme doesn’t fully apply in the City of London.
Taking the badge abroad
If you’re travelling abroad, it is possible to use your blue badge as it’s recognised throughout the European Union (EU). However, it must be noted that the concessions provided may not be the same as those in the UK.
Travelling further afield though, there are currently no arrangements in place that would allow you to use your badge outside the EU in countries such as Australia, New Zealand, USA and Canada.
My badge has expired
We strongly suggest reapplying for your badge a considerable amount of time before its expiry date; if it expires, you may be fined if you continue to use it. It’s possible to renew online and you will also receive a letter from the Blue Badge Improvement Service to remind you of your renewal date.
Article written by Jamie Roberts, on behalf of Lookers Group.
DISCLAIMER: This article should not be regarded as constituting legal advice in relation to particular circumstances, and is merely a general comment on the relevant topic.