A handicap parking sign is a common sight throughout the country. These spaces are marked with a blue background and a white wheelchair design that designates handicapped parking spaces. However, you may not know which disabilities qualify for handicapped parking.
These spaces are specifically designed for people who need them, and cannot be used by just anyone. There are different reasons why these types of parking spaces can be used, and there are different disabilities that allow their use.
How do Handicap Parking Permits work?
Millions of Americans have physical disabilities or health problems that make it difficult for them to interact with their environment. For them, handicapped parking spaces are quite a good solution, because they allow them to reduce stress, and they can have greater convenience in parking their vehicle.
This type of space is designated only for people with two types of permits:
- Plastic cards which can be seen through the vehicle glass.
- Special handicap license plates.
In both cases, the symbol of a wheelchair, which is recognized by the ISA, will be displayed. Each state DMV office or similar agencies will issue disability permits to persons who have mobility impairments or health problems to prevent them from walking significant distances.
Many of these parking spaces have additional space for wheelchairs and for convenient vehicle entry and exit. These spaces are designed to benefit people with disabilities and offer free parking in metered spaces or government parking lots.
If these spaces are disrespected and are used by people who do not have a disability, there will be different penalties. These can range from fines of a few dollars or more to other types of penalties.
Who qualifies for a handicapped parking permit?
It should be noted that the requirements for obtaining a parking permit handicap vary from state to state. Normally, the main criterion is that the person cannot walk 100 to 200 yards without having to stop to walk. Other aspects such as difficulty entering or exiting the vehicle or limited night vision are also taken into consideration.
Some of the conditions for which this permit may be held may include:
- Inability to walk without a brace, cane, crutch, prosthetic device, wheelchair, or any similar device.
- Diseases that limit the ability to use your legs.
- Advanced lung or heart disease.
- Vision problems, especially at night.
- Loss or significant difference in both legs or hands.
- Other mobility or neurological problems.
However, some conditions are not listed here, and if you think you may need a handicap permit, it is best to see a doctor. There are states in which people who use oxygen or have sensitivity to sunlight can obtain this parking permit.
Which invisible disabilities qualify?
Handicap parking permits are not only for people in wheelchairs. There are different types of disabilities that can lead you to have one of these permits. Among the most common cases we will find:
- Brain damage or tumors
- Heart or lung conditions
- Back injuries
- Chronic pain
- Organ transplants
- Hidden prostheses
- Recent surgeries
- Cancer treatments
- Chronic fatigue
- Short-term memory loss
However, there are people who seek to commit fraud with handicapped parking permits, especially when they are not being used. However, this can result in penalties and may interfere with a disabled person’s ability to use this space.
Cases in which a temporary parking permit handicap may occur
In most states, special permits are available for temporary disabilities. Normally, these are valid for six months, or until the doctor has designated on the application, whichever comes first.
The temporary conditions for this permit will be:
- Leg injuries
- Recovery from some surgeries
- Cancer treatments
- Any condition that prevents mobility or requires special assistance.
These permits are only temporary, and therefore will not be permanent. For these conditions it is essential to have a medical concept and that it has a specific validity date.
How is this permit processed?
The first thing to do is to start with your primary healthcare provider. These professionals will tell you the requirements and whether or not your condition might qualify for a handicapped parking permit. They will also have to submit a letter or fill out some forms about the illness or disability. This is so that you can support your application.
Once you have the documents, you will need to visit your state’s DMV website to get the information specific to your state. In some cases, you can apply directly online, and usually, you will have to fill out paperwork and provide official proof with medical documentation.
It should be noted that the costs to obtain these permits may vary from state to state. Some states will even give them to you free of charge.
Rules for the use of disabled parking spaces
The handicap permit can only be used by the person requesting it. You can use the permit whether you are the driver or passenger of the vehicle, but you must always be present when the placard is in the vehicle.
If the placard is used improperly or when you are not in the vehicle, the permit could be canceled. You may also have different penalties, such as community service, for both the person to whom the permit belongs and who is using it.
In most states, this permit is treated as a temporary permit, and owners will usually have to renew them from time to time. This requires documentation from a doctor verifying that the disabling conditions still exist and that the permit is required for this reason.
Can the handicapped parking permit be used in another state?
You probably think that this is a permit that will be valid in all 50 states, but this is not always the case. If you are going on a road trip, you may have some difficulty if you use the permit outside of your state.
Some states, such as California, require visitors to apply for a 90-day temporary travel permit. For this reason, it is always good to look at the specific regulations of each state. This is because not all states will apply the same rules, and your placard may not be valid, so you could end up with penalties.
- Konrad, E. (2024). 6 Qualifying conditions for a disabled parking permit. Handicap. https://drhandicap.com/insights/6-qualifying-conditions-disabled-parking-permit/
- New, H. (2018, September 14). Parking for People with Disabilities – The Law. New York DMV. https://dmv.ny.gov/brochure/parking-people-disabilities-law
- Meyer, S. (2024). Handicap parking permits: Who can use them and how. The Zebra. https://www.thezebra.com/resources/driving/handicap-parking-permit/