Everything You Need To Know About Getting A Disabled Parking Badge

Dr Handicap - disabled parking sign

There is a long list of different disabilities that can make life logistically difficult. For people with a respiratory illness, heart condition, injured or amputated limb, chronic bad back, eyesight or hearing problem, or asthma, getting from A to B can often be a bit of a logistical nightmare. But thankfully, there are various ways of making life easier for people with disabilities. Government-mandated disabled parking is one of these ways.

Up until the late 1960s, disabled parking in the U.S. was almost non-existent. Prior to this, physically handicapped people were pretty much on their own when it came to finding suitable parking. But as mainstream attitudes towards minority groups began to change for the better in the ’60s (thanks in no small part to the Civil Rights Movement), an awareness grew of the need for legislation that would protect the rights of disabled people and allow them to live full, productive, and happy lives.

Over the next third of a century, four landmark pieces of legislation – the Architectural Barriers Act, the Rehabilitation Act, the Fair Housing Act, and the Americans With Disabilities Act – were written into law. These new laws dramatically improved the lives of disabled people.

The Americans With Disabilities Act is the most thorough and effective piece of legislation that deals with rights for the disabled. Section 4.6 of the Act deals very specifically with disabled parking. Since the ADA was implemented in July 1990, specially designed, suitably dimensioned, strategically positioned disabled parking spaces have been common and easily accessible in every corner of the United States. These spaces make the logistics of life a lot more manageable for disabled people.

If you have a disability but are yet to avail of disabled parking, here is everything you need to know about getting a disabled parking badge.

Dr Handicap - walking with crutches

Firstly, you will need to find out if your disability qualifies you to use disabled parking in America. While the exact list of qualifying conditions varies by state, the final decision on whether you qualify is up to the medical professional that examines you.

If you suffer from any of a core group of disabilities, you will almost certainly qualify for a disabled parking permit in any state. This core list consists of: any condition that requires the use of a wheelchair or crutches; any heart condition; lupus; respiratory problems; any condition that requires the use of a portable oxygen tank; rheumatoid arthritis; obesity; being an amputee; arthritis; eyesight or hearing problems; or an acute sensitivity to sunlight.

You can also get a temporary U.S. disabled parking placard for a period of a few weeks, months, or years if you are pregnant or have a temporary injury.

As we mentioned before, the final decision is up to your physician. So if you have a disability that is akin to any of the aforementioned conditions in the core group, a physician will usually decide that you qualify.

You must have a consultation with a medical professional in order to acquire your official letter of recommendation. This can be done using telemedicine (over the phone or online) or in person at a doctor’s surgery. Once a medical professional has examined you and decided that you qualify for disabled parking, they will give you a letter of recommendation.

Armed with your official doctor’s letter, the next step is to download a handicap parking placard application form from your local DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) office. (You can also call into your local DMV office in person if you prefer.) Once you have completed your application form, you submit it to the DMV along with your doctor’s letter, and hey presto… The process is complete!

Now all that is left to do is wait. The DMV usually takes about 10–14 days to process your application, so you should expect to receive your disabled parking permit about two weeks after you submit your application.

You can choose to have a mobile disabled parking badge that you place in your front windshield, or you can have your disabled parking credentials incorporated onto your vehicle’s registration plates. The advantage of the mobile placard is that you can take it with you when you are traveling in somebody else’s vehicle, and this will give that vehicle temporary disabled parking rights.

So that is everything you need to know about getting a disabled parking badge. It’s really quite a simple and easy process, especially due to the fact that you can do pretty much all of it online, from the comfort of your own home. And it’s so worth it – once you have your disabled parking placard, you’ll be able to use strategically located disabled parking spaces that will make your life quite a great deal easier.