Feeling in the dark about the disabled parking laws in California? No problem! Here’s a breakdown on everything you need to know about obtaining and using a handicap parking placard in the Golden State.
You must meet the appropriate requirements to qualify for a placard.
There are a variety of medical conditions that would qualify you for getting a handicap parking permit. If you suffer from limited mobility, cardiac conditions, limited or loss of use of any extremity (or the use of prosthesis), or are unable to move without an assistive device (like a wheelchair or cane), you would likely qualify for a placard. There are also permits available for people with visual problems, like lower vision or partial-sightedness.
Get your application signed by a medical professional.
You’ll need to fill out an Application for Disabled Person Placard or Plates (REG 195) from the California DMV. There is a section called the Doctor’s Certification that must be signed by a licensed physician, surgeon, physician assistant, nurse practitioner, or certified nurse. This individual must have knowledge of your particular disability or medical condition. It’s also possible for a licensed chiropractor to sign if the disability is lost or limited use of an extremity. Additionally, licensed optometrists can sign for individuals with vision problems. You don’t need a medical certification if you have lost a lower extremity or both hands, and you can come into your local DMV office to fill out the application in person.
If you don’t have a medical professional who can fill out the application for you, consider heading to DisabledParking.com, where you can get connected to a licensed physician. They’ll help you determine whether you will qualify for a placard, and they’ll assist you in filling out the application as well.
Complete the entire application process.
Once you have filled out your application (including the medical certification), make sure to submit the appropriate fees if you’re requesting a temporary placard, and mail it to the address listed on the DMV form. If you’re requesting a disabled license plate, you should also fill out the application, but don’t forget to include your current registration card or documents that show the vehicle is in your name. Then pay the normal registration fees due for your vehicle and surrender the license plates that are currently on your car.
Understand the different types of parking permits.
There are several different types of handicap parking permit, so be sure to pick the one that best fits your circumstances before you complete your entire application.
- Permanent placards are for permanent disabilities. They are valid for two years and expire on June 30 of every odd-numbered year.
- Temporary placards are for temporary disabilities or conditions. They are valid for up to 180 days (six months) or the date that has been selected by your medical professional on your application. These types of placards cannot be renewed more than six consecutive times.
- Travel placards are for residents of California who have a permanent placard or license plate. They are valid for 30 days from the DMV-issued date.
- Travel placards for non-residents are for those who plan to travel in California and already have a permanent disability placard or license plate. They are valid for up to 90 days or the date listed by the medical professional on the application.
Follow the parking regulations to the letter.
Once you have received your DMV-issued placard or license plate, you are permitted to park in the following places:
- In parking places with the International Symbol of Access (or the wheelchair symbol)
- Next to blue curbs (which are designated for people with disabilities)
- Next to green curbs (which indicate limited time parking) – there are no time limits for people with handicap placards or license plates
- In on-street metered parking spaces (at no charge!)
- In areas that require a resident or merchant permit
However, even with these advantages, there are still some places that you cannot park, including:
- In spaces marked with crosshatched patterns that are next to wheelchair-accessible parking places – these spaces are for wheelchair and lift access only
- Next to red curbs (which are off-limits for parking and stopping)
- Next to yellow curbs (which are for commercial vehicles to load and unload people or freight)
- Next to white curbs (which are used for loading and unloading passengers or depositing mail)
(Side note: You’ll also get the added privilege of having service stations refuel your vehicle at self-service rates – unless the facility only has one employee on duty.)
Adhere to all handicap permit regulations.
Make sure that you are the only person who uses your placard or license plate for parking or getting assistance at service stations. If you do any of the following restricted actions, you could be cited and fined:
- Let a friend or family member borrow your placard
- Forge your medical professional’s signature on your application
- Use someone else’s placard
- Use or display counterfeit placards or license plates
- Offer false information in order to obtain your placard or plate
- Alter your placard or identification card in any way
If you’re found to be doing any of these things, the DMV could actually decide to cancel and revoke your placard, and you’d be punishable by a penalty under the California Vehicle Code.
Follow protocol for lost or stolen placards.
If your placard gets stolen, lost, or ruined, you will need to complete and sign an Application for Replacement Plate, Stickers, Documents (REG 156) from the DMV. There is a fee for a substitute placard for temporary permits (permanent and travel placards can be replaced with no fee). Usually, replacement parking permits are issued about four weeks after you submit the application.
Make sure to follow all seven of these suggestions so that you’re complying with all of the disabled parking laws in California!