A disabled parking permit is a very useful thing to own. Disabled permits enable their holders to park in wheelchair-accessible parking spaces. These spaces exist in every public parking lot in the nation and are located as close as possible to the accessible entrances of the amenities they serve.

Disabled permit holders are entitled to park in any on-street disabled parking spaces. In most jurisdictions, a disabled permit also entitles its holder to park in metered, on-street spaces for free, and often for unlimited time.

Disabled permits are intended to enable people with mobility issues and physical disabilities to get around more easily and live life on their own terms. But does a disabled parking permit entitle its holder to drive in HOV lanes?

Dr Handicap - highway lanes
Image by Sandy Manoa on Unsplash: Can disabled drivers drive in HOV (carpool) lanes?

What Is A HOV Lane?

A HOV (high occupancy vehicle) lane is reserved for vehicles carrying more than one person. Buses and private vehicles that are carrying several people can use HOV lanes. HOV lanes are intended to encourage people to travel in groups, which is better for the environment and helps to keep roads clearer and less congested.

How Can You Recognize A HOV Lane?

HOV lanes are usually the left-most lane on a road. They are marked with a distinctive diamond logo. This diamond logo will usually be on signposts and painted at intervals on the tarmac.

What Is The Difference Between HOV And Carpool?

There is no difference between HOV and carpool. HOV means “high occupancy vehicle”, and carpool is simply another word for the same thing.

Why Is Using The HOV Lane Such An Advantage?

Using the HOV lane is a big advantage because it is almost always much emptier of traffic than regular lanes. This means driving in the HOV lane can make your journey time a lot shorter. Using the HOV lane is less stressful and makes journeys quicker. Even when a highway is very congested, the HOV lane will usually be moving freely.

Using the HOV lane is also much better for the environment because it means that more people are traveling but less vehicles are being used.

How Do You Qualify For The Carpool Lane?

In some states you need to apply for a carpool lane sticker to use the HOV lane. In other states carpool lanes are monitored by cameras that check each vehicle to make sure it has enough passengers to legally use the lane.

Who Can Use The HOV Lane?

In most states, the following vehicles may use HOV lanes:

  • Vehicles with two or more persons
  • Buses
  • Emergency vehicles
  • Motorcycles
  • Alternative fuel vehicles (such as electric cars)
Dr Handicap - public transit
Image by Free-photos on Pixabay: Buses can travel in carpool lanes.

What Are The HOV Lane Rules?

Only qualifying vehicles may use the HOV lane. Illegal use of the HOV lane is a misdemeanor offense and is punishable with a fine and possible legal fees. Subsequent offenses will result in bigger fines and points on the offending driver’s record.

Can Disabled Drivers Drive In HOV Lanes?

A disabled parking permit, in and of itself, does not entitle its holder to drive in the HOV lane. In most areas, the only way a disabled driver can use the HOV lane is if they are driving a qualifying vehicle or if they have two or more people traveling in their vehicle.

However, in certain jurisdictions where it is possible for solo drivers to pay a toll to access the HOV lane – Houston, Texas, for example – disabled veterans can use the lanes without paying the toll.

What Is A Disabled Parking Permit?

A disabled parking permit is a document issued by the DMV that enables its holder to avail of the disabled parking infrastructure in their home state. Disabled parking permits from each state are also recognized in all other US states, as well as many other countries such as Canada, Mexico, the UK, Japan, and all EU countries.

What Are The Qualifying Conditions For A Disabled Parking Permit?

The qualifying conditions for a disabled parking permit vary slightly state by state. However, the main list of conditions that forms the foundation for all states is:

  • Not being able to walk 200 ft without needing to stop to rest.
  • Not being able to walk without the aid of an assistive device.
  • Being legally blind.
  • Having a cardiovascular condition.
  • Lung disease.
  • Any condition that necessitates the use of a portable oxygen tank.
  • A neurological, arthritic, or orthopedic condition.

How Do You Get A Disabled Parking Permit?

The best way to get a disabled parking permit is to arrange an online consultation with a medical professional through Dr. Handicap.

Featured image by Dan Gold on Unsplash