What Are the Legal Requirements for a Handicap Parking Space?

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If you have a disability or mobility issues, you can acquire a handicap parking placard or plate that allows you to park in designated handicap parking spaces. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), there are minimum standards that must be legally met for disabled parking. Here’s what you need to know about those federal guidelines that help make getting around a little easier those with disabilities.

What Are The Legal Requirements For A Handicap Parking Space?

The ADA, combined with state laws, makes it a requirement for public agencies and private businesses to have a minimum number of disabled parking places available. These spaces must be of a minimum size and also have proper signage that makes them easy to spot.

Only people with a handicap parking permit, placard, or plate issued by the state in which they live can use handicap parking. Lots built before 2010 may have slightly different standards for the number of spaces than those created after 2010, when the ADA updated guidelines.

How Many Disabled Parking Spots Are Required In A Parking Lot?

The ADA sets standards for parking lots and requires a minimum number of disabled parking spots, dependent on the size of the parking lot. These ADA parking space requirements in general are:

  • Parking lots with 1 to 25 spaces: 1 designated handicap parking spot
  • Parking lots with 26 to 50 spaces: 2 designated handicap parking spots
  • Parking lots with 51 to 75 spaces: 3 designated handicap parking spots

For every 25 spots in a parking lot, the number of required designated parking spots is increased by one. So, a parking lot with 150 spaces should have six handicap parking spots available. When you get up to parking lots with up to 500 spaces, nine handicap parking spots must be available, along with two spaces specifically for vans.

A parking lot with over 1,000 parking spaces must have 20 handicap accessible parking spots, along with one for every 100 spots over 1000. And for every six handicap parking spaces in a parking lot, there must be at least one that is accessible to a van.

Medical facilities have slightly different standards – 20% of their parking lots must be designated as handicap accessible.

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Image by Yomex Owo on Unsplash: Does there have to be a sign for handicap parking? Yes!

What Makes A Legal Handicap Parking Space?

Handicap parking spaces must be in a location in a parking lot that provides the most accessible route to the entrance of the building. They must also be close to the entrance to make the distance required to travel from the vehicle to the doors the shortest route possible.

Handicap parking spots also must be of a certain size – a minimum of eight feet wide, with an aisle space adjacent to them that is also a minimum of five feet wide. A handicap parking space for a van must be at least 11 feet wide, and there must be an accessible path from the aisle to the accessible entrance of the building.

Does There Have To Be A Sign For Handicap Parking?

The ADA parking space requirements also have specifics for parking signs in relation to disabled parking spots. All spots must be properly designated with the “International Symbol of Access” – the standard white-and-blue image of a person in a wheelchair you’re likely used to seeing.

The only exception to signage rules under the ADA is for lots with four or fewer parking spaces, or residential lots where parking lots are assigned to specific individuals. In these places, handicap signs are not required.

How High Does A Handicap Sign Have To Be?

Signs must also be at least five feet off the ground, and if meant to denote a van-accessible space, this must be indicated on the sign. Access aisles are to be marked with diagonal lines.

Dr. Handicap - handicap parking lot view

Image by Robert Ruggiero on Unsplash: What is the length of a disabled parking spot? There is a standard everyone must adhere to.

Handicap Parking Spot Penalties

The ADA is enforced by the Department of Justice. That means that charges can be brought against any person or business that doesn’t comply with the requirements for handicap parking spots. This can result in fines up to $150,000, depending on how many times the individual has violated the rules set forth by the ADA. In some states, if spaces are not properly provided, a misdemeanor crime can be charged.

For individuals who park in handicap parking spaces without a proper license plate or placard, a civil infraction may be issued. That may mean a parking ticket or even being towed from the spot, depending on where it takes place.

There’s a lot to know about the legal requirements for handicap parking, but once you know the rules, they’re easy to remember!

Featured image by AbsolutVision on Unsplash