What If I Forget My Disabled Parking Permit When I Drive?

Dr. Handicap - placard in car window

There are many regulations to keep in mind when using your disabled parking permit. Some are super important (such as not lending out your placard to friends and family, or not parking by a red curb); however, perhaps the most crucial is to always remember to hang your placard from your rearview mirror when you’re parked in a handicap parking space. But what happens if you forget to put out your placard? Here’s a rundown of what you need to know.

When do I need to display my handicap parking placard?

If you’ve obtained a disabled parking permit, that means a medical professional has confirmed a disability you have (which could be anything from a heart condition to a missing limb). You’ve also completed your application successfully, and the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in your state has issued you a handicap placard. Now, if you were granted a handicap license plate, you won’t ever need to worry about remembering to display a placard. However, if you’ve only been awarded a handicap parking placard, it is your responsibility to display your placard as soon as your vehicle is no longer in motion. You are prohibited from hanging your placard from your rearview mirror while you’re driving, but as soon as you’re parked, you should display it. Please note that police can still issue tickets if your handicap placard is not properly displayed but instead is on the seat or the floor of your car. Therefore, it’s imperative that you remember to hang your placard from the rearview mirror as soon as you’re parked and before you exit your vehicle.

Do I display my placard if I’m just a passenger?

Even if you’re not the driver of the vehicle, you still need to display your placard, so that everyone can see you have a right to use a handicap parking space. This means that you should remember to bring your placard with you whenever you’re out and about, even if you’re not driving. You can still utilize disabled parking even if you’re not in your own vehicle, which can help disabled individuals like yourself gain easier access to businesses and retail locations.

Dr Handicap - disabled parking kerb sign

If I forget my disabled parking permit, what happens?

If you forget your placard and you park in a handicap parking space, you’re technically parking there illegally. Because police won’t know whether you have a right to park there or not if they can’t see a placard, they will be forced to write you a ticket or citation. Please be aware that these tickets can be hugely expensive (sometimes hundreds of dollars). Most cops will see this situation in pretty black-and-white terms: if you park in a handicap parking place without your handicap placard being clearly displayed, you will be issued a ticket (regardless of whether you have a disabled parking permit on file with the DMV).

If I get a ticket, what are my options?

First, you can simply pay the ticket and try harder to remember to take your handicap placard with you wherever you go. This can hurt your wallet, but it can also serve as a pretty effective reminder to not forget your placard ever again! Your other option is to contest the ticket. Every state is different, and even some counties or municipalities will have varying rules about this. In some areas, you can present your placard (and your disabled parking permit paperwork) to verify that you were permitted to park in handicap parking, and the court can choose whether to waive or invalidate the ticket and citation. You also have the option of writing the traffic judge involved a letter with your evidence asking them for a dismissal of the ticket (or a hearing if appropriate). If you’re going to go as far as initiating a hearing, it’s possible you could benefit from hiring a lawyer to help advocate for you. This situation also depends a great deal on the judge you’ll be dealing with – some are more understanding and can be lenient about letting you out of a ticket, while others might say you just have to pay the citation fee. The whole thing depends on how much money or effort you want to spend on resolving the ticket.

Dr Handicap - ticket on car

What are some tips for remembering to use my handicap placard?

If you often forget to have your disabled parking permit with you, here are some tips to help you remember to use it:

  • Put the placard on your lap when you get in the car. When you go to exit the vehicle, you won’t be able to stand up without grabbing it! Then you can hang it on the rearview mirror before you forget.
  • If you’re a passenger, or someone is coming with you when you drive, ask them to help remind you to use your handicap placard.
  • Try putting a post-it note on your steering wheel or dashboard to help remind you to use your placard.
  • If you tend to forget your placard as a passenger, try to remember to bring it with you in your purse or leave it by the door so you can grab it on your way out.

As a disabled driver, if you feel like you’re always forgetting your handicap placard, one option is to apply for a handicap license plate. This gives you the exact same privileges as a handicap placard, but you won’t have to remember to bring it with you or hang it on the rearview mirror when you get out of your car. Of course, this won’t work if you need your placard for riding in other cars, but it might be a helpful option for more forgetful folks

It’s not the end of the world if you forget your disabled parking permit. Just do your best to remember to hang it up when you get out of the car, or be prepared to get ticketed!