The United States disabled parking permit program is one of the best in the world. It provides an important and life-saving service to multitudes of Americans with disabilities ranging from mild to severe. Thorough and well-organized, the process for obtaining and using disabled parking permits is easy to navigate.
There are several fundamental details of the program that people new to handicap parking will need to know about. So here are the nine most commonly asked questions about disabled parking in the United States.
1. Who Can Apply For a Disabled Parking Permit?
Any person who has a qualifying disability can apply for a handicap parking permit. Primary carers of disabled people, as well as organizations that provide transport for people with disabilities, can also apply.
2. Are There Different Types of Disabled Parking Permits?
There are several different types of disabled parking permits available. Not every state has the exact same list of available permits. But all states have at least a few of the following permit types:
- A long-term permit (usually valid for five years)
- A permanent permit (usually valid for three to five years)
- A temporary permit (valid from three to 12 months)
- A Disabled Veterans permit (for people whose disability is, to some extent, military service-related)
- An organizational permit (for organizations that transport disabled people).
In most permit types, a placard or license plate version is available.
3. What are the Qualifying Conditions For a Handicap Parking Permit?
Qualifying conditions vary somewhat state by state. But the following core list of qualifying disabilities apply in the vast majority of states.
A person qualifies for disabled parking if:
- They cannot walk for a designated distance (usually 200ft) without needing to stop for rest;
- They require the use of a walking aid such as a crutch, wheelchair, Zimmer frame, brace, cane, or another person to be able to get around;
- They have lung disease;
- They require the use of a portable oxygen tank;
- They have a heart condition classified as Class III or IV by the American Heart Association;
- They are legally blind.
In some states, certain psychological conditions also qualify a person to use handicap parking.
Temporary permits can be used by people whose disability is short term. Recovering from an injury or surgery, or being pregnant, qualifies a person for short-term handicap parking placard use in many states.
4. Do I Need a Doctor to Verify My Application?
All states require that a medical professional examine the applicant and fill in a section of the application form. This consultation can be done in-person or remotely using telemedicine.
The type of medical professional who is able to verify an applicant varies slightly state by state. Some states require that the medical professional must be a licensed physician, whereas many other states accept verification from an optician, podiatrist, chiropractor, or nurse practitioner.
5. Where Do I Get a Disabled Parking Permit?
Disabled parking permits are available from the disabled parking authorities in each state.
An application can be submitted by mail or often in-person at the local handicap parking offices. These offices are usually located at the local Department of Motor Vehicles branch, and sometimes at the local tax collector’s office.
6. Are Disabled Parking Permits Valid in Different States?
- All American states recognize disabled parking permits from all other states. An out-of-state permit will allow its holder to avail of all of the same handicap parking privileges that a local permit holder can.
7. Are Disabled Parking Rules and Regulations the Same in Every State?
Disabled parking rules and regulations are very similar, but not identical, state by state.
For example, in certain jurisdictions, permit holders are entitled to park in metered, on-street spaces free of charge for any length of time, whereas in other jurisdictions this is not allowed, or disabled parking meters are provided and must be used.
It is advisable to check out the specific details of the disabled parking program in your local state, as well as in any state you may be visiting.
8. Do Disabled Parking Permits Expire?
All disabled parking permits expire. Different types of permits expire after different lengths of time. The same type of permit also often has a different duration until expiration depending on which state issued it.
It is strongly advisable to familiarize yourself with the duration until expiration, and the specific details of how to renew your handicap parking permit in your own state.
9. What If My Disabled Parking Permit is Lost, Damaged, or Stolen?
Lost, damaged, or stolen plates or placards can be replaced in all states, usually free of charge, but in some cases, a small replacement fee is necessary.
The replacement process varies state by state and sometimes requires evidence that a police report has been filed.