Do Disabled Parking Permit Holders Pay for Parking?

Dr Handicap - parking meter

When you have a disability or a physical limitation, it can sometimes be difficult to take on even minor tasks. But there is one thing you can do to make things a little easier on yourself! Getting a handicap parking permit gives you improved access to all of the places you frequent. One other advantage? Disabled parking permit holders can sometimes get free parking or parking with fewer restrictions than non-disabled drivers. If you’re wondering “Do disabled parking permit holders pay for parking?”, read on for more information.

What are disabled parking permits?

Let’s start with the basics. A disabled parking permit is a placard that you can use to provide you access to close parking places anywhere you need to park. This placard notifies other drivers and parking and law enforcement that you are entitled to park in designated handicap parking places. There are several different types of permits you can apply for, including a temporary one (that can typically only be used for up to six months), a permanent one (that needs to be renewed every couple of years), or a license plate, which is only available for people with permanent disabilities. Disabled parking permits are issued to people with a variety of qualifying conditions, including:

  • An inability to walk more than 200 feet without stopping to rest
  • An inability to walk without the use of a brace, cane, crutch, wheelchair, prosthetic device, or another person
  • Requiring the use of portable oxygen
  • Restrictions due to lung disease or cardiac conditions
  • A limited ability to walk because of an arthritic, neurological, or orthopedic condition
  • Vision or hearing impairments
Dr Handicap - parking meter by wall

How do you apply for a handicap parking permit?

The process of how to apply for a disabled parking permit is a pretty straightforward one. You’ll need to get an application from your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles website to apply. The application will ask for some personal information (date of birth, address, driver’s license number, etc.), as well as require you to complete a medical certification. This part of the process mandates that you be evaluated by a licensed physician in order to verify that you have a legitimate disability. If you don’t have a doctor who can do this for you, Dr. Handicap can connect you virtually with a physician who can help you complete your medical certification online. Your medical professional will then need to complete that portion of your application (along with their license information and signature). Once you’ve completed your application, you can submit it for review. Some states do require small fees for temporary placards and license plates – these are generally included when you submit your application.

What are the rules and regulations around owning and using a permit?

One of the main regulations you need to remember is to pay attention to when your disabled parking permit expires. Each state is different, although they generally need to be renewed every few years. Some states require you to go through the whole application and medical certification processes again, while other states will simply mail you a new placard when yours has expired. Make sure you check with your state to verify that you are keeping your permit up to date at all times. You’ll also need to ensure that you’re the only person who ever uses your placard. Placards are prohibited from being used by anyone other than the permit holder (even if they’re your friends or family!). As long as you’re the driver or a passenger in the vehicle, you can use your placard to get more convenient parking places. Additionally, it’s crucial for you to remember to hang your placard from your rearview mirror whenever your car is parked so that parking or law enforcement can verify that you’re entitled to use handicap accessible spaces. Then, whenever your car is in motion, remember to remove the placard. Specific regulations about where you can park and for how long vary from state to state, so check out the restrictions in your area before you use your disabled parking permit.

Dr Handicap - woman typing at computer

Is parking free for disabled parking permit holders?

Once your handicap placard is in your hands, you’ll likely be wondering, “Are disabled parking bays free?” The answer can be a little complicated, because every state has different regulations for handicap parking (even different cities in each state can be different!). All traditional designated handicap spaces (marked in blue) are free to park in. There are some states that do offer free parking for handicap drivers when they park at parking meters. This can be great if you can’t find on-street parking that is accessible enough for you. There can be other benefits in specific cities, such as parking for any length of time even if there’s a posted time limit. In order to take advantage of this type of benefit or of free parking, you’ll need to check with your city or state to see what you might qualify for. Even if you have to do a little research upfront, it could be worth it in the end if you save a little money with free parking.

Make sure you’re taking advantage of all the great benefits a disabled parking permit can give you. Check in with local law enforcement or specific businesses you frequent to see if you qualify for free parking or any other special regulations. As long as you stick to the rules and regulations of your state, you can get started getting more convenient (and possibly free) parking right away!