How Disabled Parking Permits Vary From State To State

Dr Handicap - USA

Disabled parking laws exist in all 50 American states. Although the general gist of the handicap parking program is very similar in all states, there are some differences in the exact details of the regulations in each state. The federal government laws about disabled parking are born from the Americans With Disabilities Act, so details that are specified within the ADA are necessarily the same in every state. But there are certain details that are not specified within the ADA, and therefore each state has its own interpretation of these elements of the program.

The fact that different states, and even jurisdictions within states, have their own unique interpretation of certain elements of the law, as well as their own unique bylaws, makes disabled parking a little bit complicated at times, but hopefully this article will help to clear some things up! Read on to find out how disabled parking permits vary from state to state.

Qualifying Conditions

The main list of medical conditions that qualify a person to get a disabled parking placard are similar in every state, although there are some differences, with certain conditions being recognized in some states but not in others. All states include the permanent use of a wheelchair, crutches, or cane, being an amputee, heart conditions, or respiratory conditions as qualifying conditions. Most states also include chronic inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. Only half of U.S. states recognize blindness as a qualifying condition. Fourteen states recognize a disabled hand, four states recognize deafness, and two states recognize mental health and developmental conditions as qualifying conditions for disabled parking. Due to these differences between states, if your condition is not in the core group that all states recognize, it would be wise to contact your local Department of Motor Vehicles office to find out whether you qualify in your state.

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What Disabled Placard Users Are Entitled To

In all U.S. states, owning a disabled placard entitles a person to park in any designated disabled parking space for as long as they require. But only some states and cities allow disabled placard users to park at regular metered spaces for free. In many states, including California, Texas, Virginia, South Carolina, and Massachusetts, disabled placard holders can park in any metered space for free for as long as they want. In other states, such as Florida, free parking is allowed at metered spaces, but only for up to four hours, although certain cities within these states waive this time limit. In some states, such as Virginia, accessible-designated parking meters exist, and these must be used if possible.

Out of State and International Disabled Placards

Every state recognizes the validity of disabled parking permits and plates from other U.S. states – although, there are some horror stories from New York City of disabled drivers with clearly visible New Jersey placards being given parking tickets. They don’t call the Big Apple the ‘Friendliest City on Earth’ for nothing! For people who are visiting the U.S. from a foreign country, whether or not they can use their foreign disabled parking placard certainly varies from state to state. Many U.S. states, such as Texas and California, allow foreign placards to be used, but others, such as Florida, require that the person apply for a temporary placard to cover their time in the state. If you are visiting America from a foreign country, it is certainly wise to contact the DMV in the state you are going to in order to check whether or not your foreign handicap parking placard will be valid.


Duration Until Expiration

While all U.S. states grant permanent and temporary disabled parking placards, there are differences in how often they need to be renewed. A temporary placard will expire in all states after six months, but states vary in the amount of times a person can renew their temporary placard. Permanent plates and placards expire and need to be renewed in all states, but in some, plates need to be renewed every year, while in others it’s every two years. In some states permanent placards need to be renewed every year, while in others it’s every four years.

First Application Requirements

In most states a person’s first application can be sent to their local tax collector’s office or DMV office by post. But in a few states, such as Florida, a first-time application must be submitted in person. In all states, subsequent applications can be submitted by post.


Permanent placards are free in all states. But permanent plates and temporary placards have a fee in most states. These fees vary by state, so check your local DMV for the fee specifics in your state.

These are the main ways that disabled parking permits vary from state to state. Remember to check the specifics of your state on your local DMV website.