Queensland will become the Australian state with the third-harshest punishment for drivers parking in disabled bays after introducing new rules that double the current fine.
Under new proposed legislation, motorists caught committing the inconsiderate offence will be fined $533, twice the existing penalty of $266.
The new Queensland fines are expected to be implemented mid-year, pending their successful passage through parliament, and will be introduced in line with the government expanding the pool of people able to apply for a disabled parking permit.
Applications for the permits are likely to increase by about 18,000 people when the government begins allowing those who are legally blind to access the spaces, a policy that is already in operation in the ACT and NSW.
"Last year, the Queensland Government introduced a parliamentary bill to expand the eligibility criteria for the Disability Parking Permit Scheme to include vision-impaired people who are legally blind," a Queensland Transport and Main Roads spokesperson said.
"While the increase to the number of permit holders is not expected to adversely affect parking bay availability, the bill proposes increasing the fine for parking in disability parks without a permit from $266 to $533 to further ensure bays are left vacant for genuine permit holders."
Elsewhere in Australia, penalties for parking in a disabled parking space vary from $120 to $450.
After the ACT, NSW and Queensland, the state with the fourth highest fines is South Australia, where the offence can attract a maximum penalty of $450 – consisting of a $390 fine with a possible additional $60 victims of crime levy if issued by SA Police.
The Northern Territory ranks lowest for driver penalties when it comes to parking in disabled bays without a permit, handing out $135 fines to motorists who flout the law.