How Do I Renew My Handicap Permit If I Have COVID-19?

For people with disabilities, having an up-to-date handicap parking permit is of the utmost importance. That permit allows them to access places they need or want to go without putting further strain on their medical condition. Handicap parking is given to people with disabilities so they can perform daily chores or enjoy leisure activities the same as those without disabilities.

When a person first gets their handicap placard, they have to go through a process of getting approved, applying for, and obtaining the permit. Handicap placards have an expiry date and need to be renewed before this date if they are still to be used.

Since a handicap permit is not permanent, some people with disabilities may be wondering how to renew theirs, especially in the wake of COVID-19. So, how do you renew your permit during COVID-19? And can you renew at all if you have an active COVID-19 infection?

Can I park with an expired handicap permit during COVID-19?

COVID-19 has posed some challenges for everyone, but for people with disabilities, those challenges may have been felt tenfold. This is especially true if someone’s chronic condition affects the way their immune system functions. Since a healthy immune system is vital to fighting off COVID-19, many with compromised immunity may have been isolated even further than those without a chronic disease.

person renewing handicap permit online
Image by cottonbro on Pexels: You can renew your handicap permit online if you have COVID-19.

One thing that may make the COVID-19 pandemic more difficult for people with disabilities is parking permit expiry. Depending on when you first got your permit (or last renewed it), it could have expired sometime throughout the pandemic. It’s hard to determine whether or not people with expired placards can still park in disabled places during the COVID-19 pandemic, because there are different rules and regulations surrounding handicap parking in each state. Some states have become more lenient with the rules because of the unforeseen circumstances, while others have not.

If you have an expired placard that has yet to be renewed, it’s important to check with your local parking authority whether you can still use it if it’s expired, or you may risk getting a ticket.

How to renew handicap placard during COVID-19

The best way to renew your handicap placard during COVID-19 may differ depending on where you live and how quickly the virus is spreading throughout your community. Many government services have been shut down at points during the pandemic or service has slowed significantly, making renewal of a handicap placard more difficult. To renew your placard, you can submit a request for renewal to your local parking authorities, either mail or by phone, up to 45 days prior to the expiration date.

The option for submitting a request is great for people with disabilities who want to avoid going into any center that could increase their risk of contracting COVID. If you have an active COVID-19 infection, you’re required to self-isolate so you don’t spread the virus to others. For a person with an active infection, renewing online is the best bet.

person using laptop to renew permit
Image by Liza Summer on Unsplash: Disability permit renewal can be an easy process, even with COVID-19.

How to renew handicap placard online

There are ways to apply for a permit renewal online that can be done from the comfort and safety of your own home while you are fighting off a COVID-19 infection. While state governments typically offer renewal requests via mail or over the phone, Dr. Handicap can help you apply online.

The easy online process gives you the opportunity to renew your handicap placard while keeping yourself and others safe from further spread of COVID-19. On the Dr. Handicap website, all you have to do is create an account and follow the simple online application process. 

COVID-19 numbers continue to ease in many places, with more and more restrictions being lifted, and many people are seeing this as a light at the end of the two-year pandemic tunnel. That being said, the virus is still out there and if you are infected, you need to do everything you can to avoid becoming part of the spread.

Featured image by Isaac Iverson on Unsplash

8 Safety Tips If You Need To Drive With A Mask

The coronavirus pandemic has made it necessary for some disabled people to wear a mask while driving. Wearing a mask is optional, and generally safe if you follow correct safety guidelines. Today, we will outline our top safety tips for people who need to drive with a mask.

Is It Safe To Drive With A Mask On?

Driving with a mask on is necessary for some people – sometimes for health reasons and sometimes for professional reasons. Driving with a mask is safe if you’re sensible and follow reasonable safety guidelines.

Is It Necessary To Wear A Mask While Driving?

It is not always necessary to wear a mask while driving. However, some people need to or choose to. People who drive for work are often required to wear a mask. Some people choose to wear a mask if they are driving very elderly or vulnerable passengers in their vehicle.

person about to put mask on in car
Image by Erik Mclean on Pexels: Is it safe to drive with a mask on?

Is It Legal To Wear A Mask While Driving?

Yes, it is legal to wear a mask while driving, provided it does not hamper the person’s view and ability to drive safely.

What Circumstances Might Mean A Disabled Driver Would Need To Wear A Mask?

The most common circumstances that make it necessary for a disabled driver to wear a mask are:

  • They are required to wear a mask for their occupation, e.g. taxi drivers and delivery drivers
  • They want to stay COVID-safe
  • They have elderly or vulnerable passengers who they want to protect

What Are The Potential Dangers Of Wearing A Mask While Driving?

Some of the potential dangers of wearing a mask while driving include:

  • Getting distracted
  • Impaired vision
  • Passing out
  • Overheating
  • Not being able to communicate clearly with law enforcement

Should You Wear A Mask In A Car With Others?

There are no hard and fast rules about whether you should wear a mask in a car with others. Cars are small and confined spaces, so some people choose to wear a mask in a car to prevent the passing of germs between people.

Driving Safely While Wearing A Mask

Here are eight safety tips if you need to drive with a mask.

1. Make Sure The Mask Is Not A Distraction

Distracted driving is dangerous. Make sure the mask you are wearing is comfortable and is not a distraction while you are driving.

2. Choose A Well-Fitting Mask

Masks come in different shapes and sizes. Stay safe while driving by choosing a good-quality mask that fits you well and won’t slip off or become uncomfortable.

3. Be Sure The Mask Does Not Impair Your Vision

No matter how well-fitting, masks can move about on the face. Make sure your mask does not impair your vision in any way, i.e. by riding up above your line of sight.

4. Don’t Allow Glasses To Fog Up

People who wear glasses may get fogged up while wearing a mask, but this can be dangerous when you’re driving. Make sure your glasses are fitted securely over your mask to avoid fogging up.

5. Pull Over If You Are Feeling Faint

Some people report feeling faint when they wear a mask for too long. If you feel faint or groggy while driving, always pull over to rest or get some fresh air.

woman wearing mask while in car
Image by Uriel Mont on Pexels: Should you wear a mask in a car with others?

6. Don’t Allow Yourself To Overheat

Masks can be warm and stifling. If you are too warm, you could get tired or even pass out. If you feel yourself overheating, pull over somewhere safe to get some air and cool down.

7. Remove Mask If Talking To Police

Masks can make communication difficult. If you are pulled over by law enforcement, remove your mask if needed to make communication easier.

8. Practice Safe Defensive Driving

Whenever you’re driving, with a mask on or without, you must practice safe, defensive driving. Defensive driving can be the difference between life and death. It involves:

  • Always having safety as your top priority
  • Being aware of your surroundings and vigilant
  • Not relying on other road users to drive safely
  • Maintaining a safe distance from the vehicle in front
  • Driving at a safe and sensible speed
  • Avoiding any type of distractions.

How Can You Apply For A Disabled Parking Permit?

You can apply for a disabled parking permit by visiting the Dr. Handicap online clinic and arranging a video consultation with a licensed physician. Once the physician has verified your disability, they will complete the relevant sections of a disabled permit application form, which you can then submit to your local disabled parking authorities.

Featured image by Norma Mortenson on Pexels

Can An Ambulance Park In A Handicap Spot?

Who can park in disabled parking spaces? We know that disabled parking permit holders are entitled to park in handicap spaces, but are there any exceptions to the rules for disabled parking?

Disabled parking space rules and regulations are enshrined in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Disabled parking spots exist in every US state and are located as close as possible to the buildings and amenities they serve. These spaces usually offer the quickest access to public areas.

Handicap spaces exist to improve the lives of people with various disabilities and mobility issues. In every US state, handicap spaces are available to be used by a disabled permit holder from any US state, as well as holders of several overseas disabled parking permits.

But what are the exceptions for parking in a handicap spot? Can an ambulance park in a handicap spot under certain circumstances? Is it a criminal offense to park in a disabled bay if you do not have a disabled permit in your vehicle, and how can you report illegal handicap parking? Below, we’ll answer all of these important questions and more.

Can An Ambulance Park In A Handicap Spot?

The laws about ambulance parking vary state by state. In most states, an ambulance can park in a handicap spot under certain specific circumstances.  If an ambulance is transporting a disabled person, it can park in a handicap spot for up to 15 minutes. If it is on an emergency call, it can park in a handicap spot for a limited time. In most other circumstances, an ambulance cannot park in a disabled parking space.

ambulances parked outside hospital
Image by ArtisticOperations on Pixabay: Can an ambulance park in a handicap spot?

Exceptions For Parking In A Handicap Spot

So, what are the rules for what drivers and vehicles can legally park in disabled parking spots? The only vehicles that can legally park in handicap parking spaces are:

  • A vehicle that is currently being used by a disabled parking permit holder, while the permit is in the vehicle
  • A vehicle that has a permit because it transports disabled people, while it is on official business and transporting disabled people
  • Ambulances when they are transporting disabled people, for up to 15 minutes
  • Emergency vehicles when they are on “hot calls”.

Is It A Criminal Offence To Park In A Disabled Bay?

Yes, it is a criminal offense to park in a disabled bay if you do not hold a disabled parking permit.

How To Report Illegal Handicap Parking

If you see illegal parking in a handicap parking bay, you can report it by taking the vehicle’s registration and:

  • Flagging down a parking attendant or police in the area
  • Calling your local police non-emergency line
  • Calling your local parking enforcement team
  • Submitting photos to the Parking Mobility app.

Rules For Disabled Parking

The rules for disabled parking are:

  • Only permit holders may park in disabled parking spots.
  • It is illegal to use a handicap permit that is not your own.
  • There must be a legally required number of disabled parking spaces in every area and parking lot.
  • Disabled parking spaces must be clearly signposted.
  • Disabled parking spaces must be of the correct size and dimensions and located as close as possible to an accessible entrance to the building or amenity they serve.
parking spaces
Image by Binyamin Mellish on Pexels: What are the rules for disabled parking?

How Can You Get A Disabled Parking Permit?

If you do not yet have a disabled parking permit, the best way to get one is to visit the Dr. Handicap online clinic. You will have a consultation with a medical professional in your state who will verify your disability and complete an application form for disabled parking. You can then submit the application to your local disabled parking authorities. (Disabled parking authorities are different in each state, but it is usually the local DMV.)

What Types Of Disabled Parking Permits Are Available?

You can get the following types of disabled parking permits in most states:

  • Permanent disabled parking placard
  • Permanent disabled parking license plate
  • Temporary disabled parking placard
  • Disabled Veterans license plate
  • Organizational disabled parking permit

Where Are Handicap Parking Permits Valid?

Handicap parking permits are valid in all US states, as well as in all US overseas territories and several foreign countries including Canada, Mexico, UK, EU, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan.

Featured image by Obi Onyeador on Unsplash

3 Phone Safety Tips For Handicap Drivers

For every driver, including disabled drivers, the day you get your license is memorable. After all, it gives you the freedom to go where you want, when you want. For many disabled drivers, the biggest distraction when driving was the radio or CD player for many years, but today things are different. Everyone has a smartphone – and that smartphone can create dangerous driving situations.

Staying safe on the road should be the number one priority for anyone behind the wheel. Here are a few top phone safety tips for handicap drivers.

What Should You Do With Your Phone While Driving?

Having your phone with you when you’re on the road gives you peace of mind. After all, if something were to happen, it’s great to be able to call for help. No one is saying that to stay safe you shouldn’t have your phone with you – it’s what you do with your phone while driving that makes a difference when it comes to safety.

Your smartphone is, well, smart. It has several features you can use to help you stay safe on the road, and you should learn to use them. For starters, you should find your phone’s Do Not Disturb setting and use it before you get on the road. This setting won’t allow you to get any notifications or calls as you drive. And while you may worry about missing calls, it’s one of the best things you can do to prevent distraction and accidents when you’re behind the wheel.

driver getting passenger to use phone while they drive
Image by Talles Alves on Unsplash: What is the safest way to make a phone call when driving? Have a friend do it for you!

You can also use hands-free devices while driving. So what does hands-free cell phone mean, exactly? It means that you can place or take a call without using your hands, an approach that can help to reduce distracted driving. Many newer cars have a display that allows you to hook up your phone and take or make calls with your voice only when driving. A Bluetooth device is another option. Can you talk on Bluetooth while driving? Yes, you can, but you should try to keep conversations to a minimum while on the road.

If you’re driving with someone else, put them in charge of the phone! They can be your co-pilot and take control of anything you need to do on your phone while you’re behind the wheel. If you don’t have a passenger with you, do everything you need on your phone before you leave and then place it somewhere safe where it won’t distract you while you’re driving.

Top 3 Things You Shouldn’t Do When Driving

Distracted driving is extremely dangerous. In fact, according to the National Safety Council, 1.6 million car accidents each year are caused by distracted driving. That’s why it’s vital to do what you can to reduce how distracted you are in the car. Make sure you:

  1. Never text and drive. Texting while driving is the cause behind one quarter of car accidents. In many states, it’s also illegal, so make sure to know the laws where you are.
  2. Don’t eat while driving. Eating is another way you can become distracted while driving. Make sure only to eat in your car when it’s not in motion (which will probably help you from spilling food too!).
  3. Don’t use social media. Never use your phone to view social media, take pictures, or film video when driving. Keep your eyes on the road and make sure driving has your full attention, not your newest Snapchat filter.
person taking photo with phone while driving
Image by Marlon Lara on Unsplash: What should you do with your phone while driving? Definitely NOT this.

What Is The Safest Way to Make a Call When Driving?

If you do have to make or take a call while driving, the safest way to do so is by using the hands-free methods discussed above. However, be sure you are legally allowed to do this where you live before you set things up to go hands-free.

If you live in a place where talking on the phone in any way is a no-no, always safely find a place to pull off the road and park while you take any call. Better still, simply call them back or do so yourself after you’ve reached your destination.

Remember, driving is a privilege and a responsibility. You have the privilege to drive as long as you do it in a responsible way that takes into account your safety and the safety of others on the road. Your phone will always be there, as will your social media and anyone who calls. Don’t put yourself at risk – be smart with your smartphone when behind the wheel!

Featured image by Eugene Chystiakov on Unsplash

Handicap Parking As An Employee: All You Need To Know

Parking is often a perk of employment. In many cases, employees are provided with a place to park while they’re on the job. But what does this mean if you’re disabled?

Handicap parking as an employee is something protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Still, many people have questions about how they should be accommodated by their employer and what types of things must be provided.

Here’s what you need to know about employers accommodating people with disabilities as it relates to providing parking for employees while they’re on the job.

Do Employers Have To Provide Parking For Disabled Employees?

Any business with more than 15 employees has to abide by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) when it comes to accommodating disabilities. Under the ADA, there are specific requirements they must follow – including parking. Of course, some factors influence this, such as whether or not the employer is in control of the parking lot and whether or not providing you with parking falls into the category of reasonable accommodation if you have a disability.

disabled parking signage
Image by Possessed Photography on Unsplash: Handicap parking as an employee can get complicated. Talk to your employer for help.

If your employer owns and operates the parking lot you park in, and you are disabled, there are certain standards they must operate under to ensure they are in compliance with the ADA. For example, they must have a certain quantity of parking spaces in the lot accessible for employees with disabilities, and must provide accessible parking spaces if it’s a reasonable accommodation for someone with a disability that they employ.

If an employer does not own a parking lot and therefore does not offer parking as a perk to its employees, under the ADA they generally do not have to provide accessible parking to employees with disabilities. Whatever entity does control the parking where employees park is generally responsible for providing accessible parking under the ADA.

What Percentage of Parking Should Be Disabled?

There are standards set forth by the ADA as to how many accessible parking spaces must be in a lot. The number of accessible spaces is determined by the full number of spaces in the parking lot. For example, a parking lot with up to 25 parking spaces must have at least one accessible van space. A lot with between 25 and 50 spaces must have at least one standard accessible space and one accessible space for a van. The number goes all the way up to lots that have 300 total spaces, of which at least seven must be accessible.

In addition to the overall number of spots, these lots must also provide an access aisle to an accessible route – i.e. one that can provide an unobstructed and continuous route to the facility the parking lot serves.

What If There Aren’t Enough Accessible Parking Spaces?

In some circumstances, there may be more employees needing disabled parking than there are designated accessible spots in the lot. When this happens, what do you do?

Employers have to take into consideration what each employee needs to determine if accessible parking is really an accommodation they require. If it places undue hardship on the employer, the ADA does allow them to turn down a request for accommodations.

disabled parking spots with blue lines
mage by Robert Ruggiero on Unsplash: Accommodating employees with disabilities is guaranteed by the law, but whether that includes parking depends on a few factors.

Ultimately, it’s up to the employer to define what a reasonable accommodation for a disability is when it comes to work. If they do not provide parking, then they may be able to come up with alternatives that provide designated or accessible parking to allow the employee with a disability to continue their employment.

It’s important to also understand that even if you have a disabled parking placard, an employer who does not provide parking as a perk of employment does not have to automatically provide parking for you, unless it can be negotiated as part of what is considered a reasonable accommodation under the ADA.

You have rights as a disabled person to be able to access parking, but the ins and outs of the laws that govern this type of thing can be a bit tricky. Your best bet is to discuss your accommodations with your employer to decide what solution best fits everyone involved.

Featured image by Josh Sorenson on Pexels