Can I Park In A Loading Zone With A Disabled Parking Permit?

Dr Handicap - loading zones

Even though a handicap parking permit can offer you tons of perks (hello, close parking places!), there are still rules you’re required to follow when you’re out on the streets. Once you have a handicap placard, you might still have questions about how to use it correctly, including “Can I park in a loading zone with a disabled parking permit?”. For the answer to this question and others, keep reading.

What is a disabled parking permit?

A disabled parking permit is issued to you by your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). It allows you to access all designated handicap parking places, which are typically much more conveniently located. The placard makes it a lot easier for you to get around if you have a disability that affects your mobility. To apply for one, you must have a qualifying condition that proves you have a need for access to better parking places. These can include:

  • An inability to walk more than 200 feet without stopping to rest
  • The need for an assistive device (such as a cane, brace, walker, wheelchair, or another person)
  • A cardiac or lung condition that makes it difficult for you to get around
  • The use of portable oxygen
  • The loss of a limb or paralysis
  • Vision issues
  • Temporary injuries (like a broken leg, pregnancy complications, etc.

Each state in the U.S. has different requirements for what constitutes a qualifying condition. To verify that you have a valid medical condition, you are required to go through a medical certification process. This means you’ll need a licensed medical professional to fill out a portion of your disabled parking permit application.

If you don’t have a health care provider who can help you with this, you can always head to Dr. Handicap. From there you can get connected to a licensed physician, who can go over your medical history and determine whether you’re a good candidate for a handicap placard. Since the process is done virtually, it’s much easier for folks who do have mobility challenges.

After you complete your medical certification, you simply finish filling out the application (it usually consists of some basic info like your address, date of birth, etc.) and then submit it to the DMV. Once your application has been reviewed, you’ll receive your placard in the mail so you can start using it right away.

Dr Handicap - no parking

Image by Adam Griffith on Unsplash: Always abide by any parking signs you see (even if you have a handicap placard!).

Where can I park with my disabled parking permit?

One of your biggest questions is probably where you’re allowed to park once you have your placard. In most states, a handicap permit will allow you to park:

  • In parking spaces with the International Symbol of Access (the wheelchair symbol) or any other designated handicap-accessible parking places
  • Next to blue curbs authorized for disabled parking
  • Next to green curbs that indicate limited time parking (usually for as long as you need to park there)

There are some states that also allow disabled parking permit holders to park in metered parking spaces with no charge and in areas that are typically for resident or merchant permit parking only. The best thing you can do is research what parking laws apply to your specific state by going to the DMV website. That way, you’ll know ahead of time where to park so you won’t run the risk of getting a ticket anywhere.

As a permit holder, you are required to hang your placard from your rearview mirror when the car is parked and remove it when the car is in motion. You are not permitted to lend your placard to anyone else (even friends and family)! You also must be sure to renew your placard when it expires so your permit is always valid. The time frame for expiry varies from state to state.

What are loading zones?

Loading zones might look different depending on what state you live in. They’re generally marked with signs indicating that they’re for loading, or by white or yellow curbs. These zones are designated as areas where vehicles (often commercial trucks or vans) can load and unload passengers or freight. In most cases, you can stop your vehicle in these zones if you’re unloading goods or dropping people off, but you are never permitted to leave your vehicle unattended or to park it there. Some of these zones might have a time limit (like five minutes) that you must stick to.

Your best bet is to read all posted signs so that you’re abiding by the restrictions; some zones might also have additional instructions (like “commercial vehicles only” or “five-minute maximum”) that you need to follow.

Image by Jen Theodore on Unsplash: Only use loading zones for unloading goods and people – no parking allowed!

Can I park in a loading zone with a handicap placard?

In most cases, there are no particular loading zone parking rules for disabled parking permit holders. This means that you must follow the loading zone restrictions, even if you have a handicap placard. You can access the loading zone if you’re loading or unloading (goods or people), but are not allowed to leave your car unattended.

Even when you have a handicap placard, you are still not permitted to park:

  • In spaces with a cross-hatched pattern next to a handicap parking place
  • Next to red curbs (which indicate no stopping or parking)
  • Next to yellow or white curbs
  • During street cleaning hours
  • During commercial or passenger loading hours
  • During posted commuter tow-away hours

There are no special loading zone parking rules for handicap parking permit holders. You are permitted to briefly stop, but no parking is allowed. To make sure you’re following all of the restrictions in your state, do your research ahead of time by checking out your state’s DMV website or by asking your local law enforcement if you’re unclear on any regulations. Then, as long as you follow posted signs, you can avoid any parking tickets in the future.

Featured image by Jack Kolpitcke on Unsplash