Is Parking Free for Disabled Parking Permit Holders?

Dr Handicap - parking sign

People love the freedom that driving a car brings. To feel the wind in your hair as the road stretches out before you reminds you that cars represent freedom, especially to people with an illness or disability. Having a disabled parking permit allows those with physical challenges to get where they’re going with ease, but there are some special disabled parking badge rules that dictate where you can park once you get to where you’re going. If you have a disabled parking permit, then here are a few things you need to know about where you can park the next time you’re out and about – including the places you can find free disabled parking!

Your Disabled Parking Permit

When a person with certain illnesses or physical limitations operates a vehicle, they may be granted a disability parking permit. In many states, this is noted with either a special license plate for your vehicle or a disability parking placard that must be displayed clearly on the rearview mirror of your car. A person with a disability can use their disabled parking permit in any car they’re traveling in and it allows them to take advantage of certain parking privileges.

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), those with a disabled parking permit can take advantage of parking spaces reserved for them, often denoted by the Universal Symbol of Access. So, wherever you travel to that has available accessible parking, you are able to park there.

Many cities also have parking on the street that is reserved for those with handicap parking permits. The curb is normally painted blue and signs are visible that help you to recognize these on-street parking spaces.

Dr Handicap - disabled parking space

Where You Can Park

With a properly displayed disability parking permit or disability license plate, even those issued by another state, you can park in these zones:

  • Blue zones – These often have blue stripes painted over the parking spot and have the access symbol painted on them as well as signage denoting them as disabled parking spots.
  • Metered parking zones – On-street metered parking is often free parking with a disabled parking permit. Just make sure to check with the local government to ensure that it’s not still paid parking with a disabled parking permit.
  • Residential parking permit areas – Even in areas that require a residential parking permit, you can park there with a disability permit and no residential permit.
  • Spaces with posted time limits – In most places, disability parking permits allow you to park for an unlimited amount of time in a space with a posted time limit, such as a one-hour zone.

It’s important to note that those who have the disability must be traveling in the car at the time it is parked, otherwise you risk having your disabled parking permit taken away from you. In other words, don’t loan it to family or friends.

Where You Can’t Park

A disabled parking permit allows for some great parking perks to help access areas easily, but there are still areas that are off-limits to park. If you park in these areas, you risk getting a parking ticket/fine or having your vehicle towed:

  • Red zones – Any zone that is a red zone and says you can’t park or stop there will not allow you to park there.
  • Street cleaning – If street cleaning hours are posted, then even a disabled parking permit will not allow you to park during the posted hours.
  • Commuter tow-away hours – Some places have signs that indicate during certain commuter hours that parking is not allowed. Don’t park here if you don’t want to risk being towed.
  • Commercial loading hours – You can often spot these spaces due to the curb being painted yellow or meters that are red or yellow, as well as signs posted that let you know the hours.
  • Passenger loading hours – Often denoted by a white curb or sign that displays the hours that let you know when it’s safe to park and when it’s not.

It’s important to note that your disability parking permit does not exempt you from tow-away rules or other citations and restrictions. Your permit has its limits. Make sure to respect handicap parking permit laws, and pay attention to signs to help you navigate the places where your permit won’t help you to park legally.

Dr Handicap - no parking zone

What About Other States?

You may be familiar with the disabled parking rules in the state where you live, but if you plan to travel, then you need to familiarize yourself with other states’ disabled parking badge rules. Your disability parking permit can often be used to park in disability parking in other places, but you must check with the local Department of Motor Vehicles or Department of Transportation in the state you’ll be visiting to find out all the rules.

It’s also important to make sure, no matter where you park, that your permit is displayed clearly and that it has not expired.

Your disabled parking permit allows you to see the world, no matter what challenges you may face physically, and sometimes you may even find free disabled parking. Just make sure to follow all the disabled parking badge rules and familiarize yourself with the handicap parking permit laws in the state you live.