Are Handicap Parking Permits Valid in All States

Dr. Handicap - handicap parking sign clouds

Once you’ve got your handicap parking permit in hand, you’ll want to make sure you’re following all of the parking permit regulations laid out by your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). As each state can have different requirements for the correct use of your handicap placard, look up your state’s DMV page for pertinent up-to-date information. You may be wondering if handicap placards are valid in all states. Read on for the answer!

In general, if you’ve obtained a valid handicap parking permit from your state, the placard should be valid in all 50 states. However, there are some states that do require that disabled individuals who are visiting apply for temporary travel placards. On the other hand, states like California, New York and Florida always recognize handicap placards, even if the permit holder is from out of state.

The U.S. has tried to make traveling between states with a handicap placard an easy process. To help limit any confusion, disabled visitors are encouraged to post a display next to their parking card that says, “This Disability Parking Permit belongs to a disabled visitor to your State.” The permit, along with this note, should give disabled individuals the same privileges according to the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). If you have a disabled license plate, you likely won’t face any difficulties when traveling state to state, because they are permanently attached to your car, are a part of your vehicle’s registration, and can’t legally be transferred to another vehicle.

Dr. Handicap - placard in car window

If you’re going to be heading to another state, make sure you have your removable windshield placard (the two-sided, hanger-style), which has the International Symbol of Access on it. The symbol should be at least three inches in height, centered on the placard, and white on a blue shield. The permit should also contain an identification number and a date of expiration. The placard is only considered valid if it has a seal or other identification by an issuing authority.

All states require that the handicap placard is clearly displayed, so that anyone can see it from the front or rear of the vehicle. It should be hung from the front windshield rear-view mirror when the vehicle is not in motion. If your car doesn’t have a rear-view mirror, the placard should be clearly displayed on the dashboard. The same requirements apply if you were issued a temporary placard by your state’s DMV.

Even if your parking permit is recognized in another state, you still have to follow any applicable parking permit regulations. Parking is allowed in these circumstances:

  • In parking spaces marked with the international wheelchair symbol;
  • Next to blue curbs (authorized for people with disabilities);
  • Next to green curbs for any length of time (even if there is a posted time limit);
  • In on-street metered parking spaces (at no charge in some states);
  • In areas that require resident or merchant permits (with no need for a permit).
Dr. Handicap - handicap parking space

You are not permitted to park:

  • In parking places with cross-hatched markings and the international wheelchair symbol, unless the placard holder needs wheelchair access;
  • Next to red curbs (there’s no stopping, standing, or parking in these areas);
  • Next to yellow curbs (these are reserved for commercial vehicles for loading and unloading of passengers or freight);
  • Next to white curbs (these are reserved for the loading and unloading of passengers or for depositing mail in nearby mailboxes).

It’s also important to remember that you’re the only one who is legally allowed to use your handicap parking permit. Friends and family are never permitted to use the placard – unless you’re in the car with them! You can either be the driver of the vehicle or just a passenger, but it’s crucial that the placard is used only for your benefit. If you fail to follow the parking permit regulations or are using it inappropriately, you could face serious consequences, including losing the placard, significant fines, or other penalties (like community service).

Bottom line: if you’re traveling outside your state, do your research before you hit the road. Look up a specific state’s DMV website and research what requirements the state you’ll be visiting has on the books. You can also contact the DMV directly if you want to be 100% sure you won’t be making any violations while you’re traveling through. In hearing from other disabled parking permit users, it seems like the validity of your placard can differ from state to state (or even certain jurisdictions who might be tougher or more lenient about your placard). But as long as you provide the necessary information, you’ll likely be able to avoid any tickets or fines. You’ll never have to wonder again if you can use your handicap placard in another state.