Taxis and rideshares such as Uber or Lyft can be an effective way of getting around. Whether you need a quick ride to the grocery store, or you’re on vacation and navigating an unfamiliar city, these types of services are convenient and easy to use. But if you have a disability, it’s important to know what to expect when using taxis and other ridesharing services. Here’s what you need to know about the rules regarding disabled parking permits and taxis of all kinds.
What is a Disabled Parking Permit?
First things first: if you are disabled, then you may want to get a disabled parking permit (if you haven’t already!). This type of permit allows you to operate your own vehicle and park in designated spots that provide more convenient parking options when you’re out and about. It may even enable you to park in metered parking without paying, park without time limits in timed parking spaces, and forgo any charges to park in parking garages. Just be aware these benefits vary from state to state, so you’ll need to check with the local Department of Motor Vehicles where you live or travel to in order to find out more.
In general, you will qualify for a disabled parking permit if you:
- Have heart disease
- Have lung disease
- Use portable oxygen
- Have a documented vision or hearing problem
- Have lost the use of one or both hands, arms, or legs or have limited use of them
- Use an assistive device such as a cane, wheelchair, or brace due to a disability that impacts your mobility
- Have a disease that limits your mobility or the use of your legs
Other conditions may apply, so check with your local DMV to find out what specific conditions may qualify you.
Can I Use My Disabled Parking Permit in a Taxi?
Disabled parking permits are for parking, so they generally won’t be of use when you’re in a taxi or using a rideshare such as Uber or Lyft. However, if you are disabled, then you can order a wheelchair-accessible taxi – an adapted vehicle that is easier for you to access than a regular vehicle.
What about disabled parking permits and Lyft (or other rideshare apps), though? In certain areas, Lyft has a specific Access Mode on its app that only orders accessible vehicles for rideshare.
What Are Your Rights Under the Law?
When you’re disabled and plan to use a taxi or a rideshare service, it’s important to understand what your rights are under the law. The Americans with Disabilities Act is a law that protects the rights of disabled citizens. Title III of the ADA applies to private taxi services and requires them to provide accessible transportation.
The ADA also specifies that taxi services:
- Cannot refuse service to a person with a disability
- Must provide you with help in stowing any mobility devices you use
- Cannot charge you higher fees or fares than those without disabilities
- Must allow you to bring your service animal on rideshares
What About Rideshares?
Ridesharing services provided by companies such as Uber and Lyft are considered private companies and are not subject to the provisions provided by the ADA. That means they do not have to follow ADA requirements for their transportation services. While companies such as Lyft do offer accessible services in some areas, they are not required to do so under law.
Some states have passed legislation that requires rideshares to provide accessible services and vehicles. It’s a good idea to do research where you’re planning to travel to see if the rideshares at your destination are subject to any other laws outside of the ADA.
There is a lot to navigate when you have disabilities. All 50 states offer disabled parking plates or placards for use by those with disabilities to make things a little easier to manage. But when you’re not in your own vehicle, the situation can become a bit more complicated. Your best course of action is to your homework and understand your rights when it comes to accessibility. That way, you can be confident no matter where you are.