A Guide to Disabled Parking in California

Dr Handicap - California

Ever wondered how to get a disabled parking permit in California? It’s actually a pretty straightforward process to qualify and apply for a placard. If you think you could benefit from access to closer and more convenient parking places, you could be a great candidate for a California handicap parking permit. Read on for all the info you need to know about disabled parking in California, from getting your placard to using it appropriately.

What are the qualifying conditions?

In order to qualify for disabled parking in California, you’ll need to have a condition that impacts your mobility in some way. This can be due to a number of different conditions, including but not limited to:

  • Loss of use of one or more lower extremities or both hands
  • A diagnosed disease that substantially impairs or interferes with mobility
  • A severe disability so that you’re unable to move without the aid of an assistive device (such as crutches, a cane, or a wheelchair)
  • Documented visual problems (including lower vision or partial-sightedness)
  • Specific cardiac conditions or respiratory illnesses

If your condition impacts your ability to get around easily or without help, you could qualify. The next step is for you to have a medical professional help fill out your application.

What is the medical certification form?

This form is included in the Application for Disabled Person Placard or Plates (REG 195), which you can find on the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) website. You can also head to your nearest DMV office to pick up an application in person. You will need a medical professional to help you complete this form. That person can be a licensed physician, surgeon, chiropractor, optometrist, physician assistant, nurse practitioner, or certified nurse midwife that has knowledge of your disability. They’ll need to include some basic information (their name, address, medical license number) and then check which category your disability falls under (like cardiac condition, loss of limb, etc.). They’re also required to write a brief summary describing your disability. After signing it, that section of your application will be good to go. If you don’t have a trusted medical professional you can turn to, consider checking out the services of Dr. Handicap. They can connect you virtually to a licensed medical professional who can evaluate if you’d be a good candidate for a California disabled parking permit. This telemedicine option can be perfect for people who find it difficult to travel in person to see a doctor.

What’s the rest of the application process?

The next step is to complete the rest of your application. You’ll need to determine which type of placard you’re applying for. The state offers the following:

  • Permanent parking placards for permanent disabilities, which are valid for two years
  • Temporary parking placards for temporary disabilities, which are valid for up to 180 days
  • Travel parking placard for California residents who already have a permanent placard or license plate – these are valid for 30 days
  • Travel parking placard for nonresidents who plan to travel in California and already have a permanent disability – these are valid for 90 days (however out-of-state placards are also accepted in California)

On the application, indicate which type you need, and then continue to fill out other information (such as your name, date of birth, address, driver’s license number, etc.). Don’t forget to sign and date the form before you send it in. If you’re requesting a temporary placard, you will have to submit a fee of $6. To submit your completed application, you can return it in person to a DMV field office near you or mail it to DMV Placard, PO Box 932345 M/S D238, Sacramento, CA, 94232-3450.

Do you need to renew a California disabled parking permit?

Permanent disabled parking permits in California do need to be renewed every two years, but you don’t have to do anything on your end. Every two years (when it expires on June 30 of every odd-numbered year), the DMV will automatically send out a new placard to the address the DMV has on file. You will not need to do another medical certification. However, temporary placards need to be renewed every 180 days (six months) or on the date your licensed medical professional indicated on your application. A temporary placard cannot be renewed more than six times consecutively. You will need to submit a new application and medical certification for a temporary placard.

What are the rules for disabled parking in California?

There are some important rules that you need to follow once you have your parking permit. First, always remember that your placard should be clearly displayed on your rearview mirror when you exit your vehicle. However, the placard must not be hanging while the vehicle is in motion. If you have a valid placard you can park:

  • In any parking places with the International Symbol of Access (wheelchair symbol)
  • Next to blue curbs authorized for people with disabled parking permits
  • Next to green curbs anytime – even though they might have time limits, you can park there for as long as you need with your placard
  • In on-street metered parking spaces (at no charge!)
  • In areas that indicate a resident or merchant permit (no permit is required as long as you have your placard)

Even with your placard, you’re still prohibited from parking:

  • In spaces with a crosshatched pattern next to the place with the International Symbol of Access – these are only for people who need wheelchair and wheelchair lift access
  • Next to red curbs – no stopping, standing, or parking allowed
  • Next to yellow curbs – which are only for commercial vehicles to load and unload
  • Next to white curbs – which are only for loading or unloading passengers

Aside from the perk of not having to pay for metered parking, you also get the privilege of service stations being required to refuel your vehicle for you. Plus, they must charge you for self-service rates even though you’re not pumping your own gas.

With better access to parking places, you’ll be able to get around so much easier. But don’t forget that you are the only one who is approved to use your placard. You are expressly forbidden from lending your placard to friends or family. If your placard is being used, you must be in the vehicle (whether you’re the driver or just the passenger). Abusing the privilege of your placard could lead to your permit being revoked permanently and could even lead to further penalties (such as fines or other punishments).

So, follow these tips and get started applying today for your disabled parking permit in California!