Can One Handicap Parking Permit Serve Two Disabled People in the Same Family?
Hundreds upon thousands of American citizens suffer from conditions that make it hard for them to travel around their city. These afflictions can take many different forms, and can be either physically or mentally incapacitating. Handicap parking spaces may not seem very important in the scheme of things, especially to people without a disability, but they can be a key contributing factor in a disabled person’s quality of life, allowing them to maneuver freely around the city or town they live in. They can be a literal lifeline in some cases, allowing patients to visit their doctor, or go about their lives with minimal hassle.
We all know what a disabled parking space looks like; they are either colored bright blue, with the iconic white wheelchair logo in the center, or they have signs up nearby with the universal logo on. This logo, known as the International Access Logo, is the same anywhere you go in the world; you’ll be able to recognize it wherever you travel. The spaces also have areas marked out on one or either side, making them wider than your average parking space. These extra markers are for disabled vans, which can either open their slide doors on one side or two, allowing for passengers in a wheelchair to disembark safely. Almost all handicap parking spaces are suitable for either cars or vans, though a space with a double door marker is sometimes harder to find than a regular handicap space.
To use these parking spaces, a patient requires a state-issued handicap parking permit. These permits can come in two forms. The first is a plastic tag or placard, which drivers or passengers can hang from the rear-view mirror; the second option is a pair of handicap license plates, which attach to the outside of the car. Both display the recognizable wheelchair logo, and entitle the holder to equal benefits; that is, it’s not advantageous to have one over the other. The laws governing handicap parking state-to-state are largely the same, so you shouldn’t worry about crossing state lines with your permit. Some states might even allow permit holders a wider range of benefits, such as free parking in metered areas, or government lots, without the usual time limit. Check with your health care provider to see if any of these apply to you in your home state.
You can also avail of a temporary handicap parking permit, designed for short-term handicaps. These are usually issued in six-month durations, and are utilized by pregnant women, and patients who have broken bones or are otherwise temporarily incapacitated for some reason. If you think you should qualify for a handicap parking placard, then discuss it with your primary health care provider. They will be able to point you in the right direction, and also inform you if your condition qualifies you or not. Different states have different rules about specific qualifying conditions, so it’s worth checking out if your condition makes the list. If you are obviously incapacitated, then have no fear; all 50 states have a broad remit for the physically handicapped. Mental handicaps are a bit of a different ballgame, but in states like New York, we’re seeing them recognized as genuine handicap qualifying conditions, so it pays to investigate if you think you might be entitled.
Once you have obtained a handicap parking permit, however, it comes with some pretty stringent rules. The designated recipient is the only person allowed to utilize the placard or plates. They must be present in the car (either as a passenger or a driver) whenever they’re looking to use the placard to park in a disabled space. The disabled placard cannot be hung in the family car and utilized by other people, whether the disabled person is present or not. Nor can it be transferred to other family members, even if the family member suffers from the same or similar disability. The law is obvious and clear; only the person who the permit is prescribed to can use it.
The penalties for willfully misusing a disabled placard can be quite severe, ranging from the cancellation of the permit to significant fines for the original owner, the person misusing it, or both. So it pays to keep track of your permit when you receive it, and make sure that no one’s taking it for a spin without you present! Another important thing to remember is that most permits have to be renewed every couple of years or so; make sure to keep track of when your current one expires so that you don’t end up using an out-of-date permit and paying the consequences of that.
All in all, if you follow the guidance of your primary care physician and keep within the laws, you should have no problem at all utilizing handicap parking spaces all over the country.