4 Things Family Members Of Disabled Drivers Should Know

Disabled adults face many challenges, but driving doesn’t have to be one of them. In fact, there are some ways that driving can be made much easier for those with disabilities. As a family member of someone who has a disability, you should understand what laws apply to disabled drivers, the education driving with disability requires, and how some vehicles may need to be modified. Here are all the things family members of disabled drivers should know.

1. Laws Surrounding Driving With Disability

Many federal laws oversee the ability of a person with a disability to drive on the roads. When discussing these driving laws, disabled usually refers to someone who has lost the use of one or more limbs and has to have adjustments made to a car in order to operate it.

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, disabled Americans are protected from being discriminated against both in the workplace and while accessing public services. A state’s Department of Motor Vehicles cannot deny a driver’s license to someone based solely on their disability status under the law. The law also states that disabled parking spaces must be available in parking lots, and must be wide enough to accommodate accessible vehicles with a ramp for wheelchairs.

Dr Handicap - parking lot
Image by Brydon McCluskey on Unsplash: Driving with a disability can be complicated. Make sure both you and the driver know the disabled driving laws.

Every state has its own laws surrounding disabled drivers, but some things are common across all states, such as the requirement of disabled drivers to disclose their disability to the DMV. The state may issue a restricted driver’s license based on the disability status of the person (mobility issues, limited vision, a hearing disability, etc.). The ways vehicles must be modified for disabilities differ from state to state, so if you have questions, make sure to contact your local DMV for more information.

2. Driver’s Education For Those With Disabilities

The driver’s education required for those with disabilities to obtain a driver’s license are much the same as any other driver’s education course, except that they may need specialized training based on any specific controls installed on a vehicle to help accommodate for their disability.

As with any other driver, a disabled driver must be at least 16, though driver’s education classes can begin at age 15. A theory test and a practical road test must be passed in order to obtain a driver’s license.

3. Requirements For Vehicles

Vehicle modifications for disabled drivers are based on the particular disability in question. Vehicles should include a feature that enables easy shifting and automatic transmission. It’s also a requirement for a disabled driver’s vehicle to have power steering, windows, seats, and locks.

Some disabled drivers may need a lift to access their vehicle and hand grips to transfer. If a driver is unable to use accelerator and brake pedals, their vehicles must have hand controls. However, you’ll want to check with your state to see what modifications are legal, since spinner knobs that make turning a wheel easier for a person with a disability have been outlawed in some states.

Dr Handicap - parking sign
Image by AbsolutVision on Unsplash: A driving license for physically handicapped people and vehicle modifications for disabled drivers can help individuals get around on their own.

4. Disabled Parking Permits

Another important item that may be required for a disabled driver is a disabled parking permit. The DMVs in each state issue these specialized parking permits, which may be given on a permanent or short-term basis. You need to check with your state to find out what the qualifying conditions are for a disabled parking permit; what forms must be filled out by the disabled driver and their doctor to secure one; and the cost, if any, of getting one.

A disabled parking permit will allow the driver to park in handicap-accessible spaces in parking garages and parking lots. These spaces are closer to the main entrance and have extra room for putting down a ramp for wheelchair access. Disabled parking may also allow a disabled driver to park on a street without paying the meter or to ignore parking with time limits. However, these privileges differ from state to state and even city to city, so you’ll need to make sure you and your disabled family member familiarize yourselves with state and local laws surrounding disabled parking.

Featured image by Josh Appel on Unsplash

7 Mistakes That Disabled Parking Permit Owners Should Watch Out For

Obtaining a handicap parking permit is a relief for a lot of people. Getting more convenient access to the places you travel to can be a lifesaver. But just because you have that coveted placard in your hand doesn’t mean you won’t still have rules to follow, both as a driver and as a passenger. To make sure you’re always on the right side of the law when using your placard, here’s a list of some mistakes that disabled parking permit owners should watch out for.

1. Obtaining a fraudulent placard

The most important thing to avoid is purchasing a fraudulent placard that hasn’t been issued by the state you live in. So what happens if you fraudulently obtain or use a disabled parking permit? Well… nothing good!

Any nonofficial placards are considered illegal, and if you’re caught using one, you’ll most likely be issued a ticket and a fine. In some states, this type of placard abuse could even come with probation or jail time. So if you’re getting a placard, make sure to only obtain it through the legitimate Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office in your state.

2. Driving with your parking permit up

Some disabled drivers may be in the habit of leaving their parking placard hanging from their rearview mirror when the car is in motion. However, this is in strict violation of safe driving laws, because the placard can obstruct your view while driving. So, whenever you start your vehicle, remember to take down your placard – it should only be up when your car is parked.

3. Forgetting to display your permit when you’re parked

Because you can’t leave your placard up at all times (see previous point), it can be easy to forget to display your handicap parking permit when you’re at your destination. But if you want to avoid getting a ticket, it’s super important to remember to have your permit hanging from your rearview mirror or clearly displayed on the dashboard of your car when you’re parked.

If you have a placard but forget to hang it when you park in a handicap parking place, you can still be ticketed and fined, since law enforcement won’t know that you have a legitimate right to park there. So, no matter what, remember to display your permit whenever you’re parked in a disabled parking spot.

Dr Handicap - no parking sign
Image by Tim Busch on Unsplash: You must obey all parking laws, even if you have a disabled parking permit.

4. Thinking you can park wherever you want

Even though you have advantages of where you can park with a permit, there are still handicap parking rules that must be followed. Even with a placard, you are still not allowed to park in a number of places, including red curbs or fire lanes, No Parking zones, No Stopping zones, and some types of loading zones.

But can a car with a handicap placard be towed? Yes, it can! If you’re parked anywhere you shouldn’t be or anywhere that law enforcement might deem unsafe, your car can definitely still be towed (and you could get ticketed or fined as well).

To stay within the law, read all street signs and posted notices so that you’ll be aware of the places you’re permitted to park. If you can’t tell whether it’s legal to park somewhere, your best bet is simply not to park there, or to ask a building manager or law enforcement what the specific laws are for that spot. Never assume that you can park anywhere you want just because you have a disabled parking permit!

5. Lending your placard to someone else

A super important rule to remember is that it’s absolutely forbidden for you to lend your parking permit out to anyone (even family and friends). You must be present in the vehicle if your placard is going to be used.

So, what are the consequences of placard abuse? The severity differs from state to state (even within specific cities), but the consequences could be as serious as probation or jail time, or as minor as a fine – though keep in mind that tickets can be hundreds of dollars! To avoid any punishments, never let anyone borrow your placard for any reason.

6. Letting your permit expire

Just because you have a permit now doesn’t mean you don’t need to take steps to keep it valid. In fact, it’s vital that you keep your placard up to date. This means that you need to pay attention to when it expires. Expiry ranges from a few months if you have a temporary placard to several years if you have a permanent permit.

Your placard should have an expiration date listed on it, so you’ll be able to tell exactly when it needs to be renewed. Go to your specific state’s DMV website for more information on how to renew your placard when the time comes. Your permit must always be completely up to date in order for you to legally use it.

Dr Handicap - parking lot
Image by Lucas Hobbs on Unsplash: Pay attention to handicap parking rules in your area so that you’re always on the right side of the law.

7. Not researching parking laws in your area

You’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t look up local laws regarding handicap parking in your area. First, you should know what laws to follow in order to be safe, but more importantly, there could be parking benefits near you that you’re unaware of. For example, some states let handicap permit owners park for free at street metered parking, or have unlimited parking even when time limits are posted.

Without doing a bit of research, you could be missing out on some advantages near you. So take a little time to enquire with local law enforcement or check with your local city staff to find out everything you need to know about handicap parking where you live.

As long as you’re avoiding making these mistakes, you’ll be in good shape to take full advantage of your handicap parking permit!Featured image by Arembowski on Pixabay

5 Things You Should Know About Disabled Parking If You’re On Oxygen Support

Disabled parking permits exist to help make people’s lives a little bit easier with convenient and accessible parking. If you’re living with a condition that requires you to use portable oxygen, it’s likely already somewhat difficult for you to get around.

With a handicap placard in hand, you can actually conserve your energy for other tasks. Here’s a list of things you should know about disabled parking on oxygen support.

1. There are a variety of illnesses that result in the need for oxygen.

Why might someone require the use of portable oxygen? In a healthy individual, oxygen passes from the lungs into the bloodstream and is pumped by the heart to the rest of the body. However, when lung or heart disease is present, this process isn’t able to take place as effectively.

Illnesses that can result in the need for supplemental oxygen include:

  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
  • Asthma
  • Pneumonia
  • Heart failure
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Lung disease
  • Trauma to the respiratory system

With these conditions, patients can experience difficulty breathing, fatigue, confusion, etc. Using supplemental O2 can help increase the oxygen that is passed into the bloodstream and then carried to the organs and tissues. If you have any of these medical conditions, you might require the use of oxygen, and you could benefit from a handicap placard.

Dr Handicap - road
Image by Alberto Frias on Unsplash: Requiring supplemental oxygen shouldn’t make you feel like you can’t hit the open road when you want to.

2. Getting a handicap parking permit when you’re on oxygen support is fairly easy.

Handicap placards are issued to individuals who have undergone a medical certification process and have shown that their mobility is limited because of a physical illness. The application process is pretty straightforward. You just need to get an application from your state’s DMV (they can typically be found online) and complete it with the help of your physician.

Once you send in your application and it’s approved by the DMV, you’ll get a handicap placard that gives you access to better parking places. There are sometimes additional perks depending on your location, such as free on-street metered parking or no time limits even when signs are posted.

3. You should check with your DMV to find out if you’re permitted to drive while using oxygen.

While you’re free to use your handicap placard as a passenger any time, there are some states that do not allow you to operate a vehicle if you’re currently using oxygen. This is because the DMV might view you as an unsafe driver (in the event that you pass out from low oxygen levels or somehow endanger other drivers because of your oxygen use).

Even if your state doesn’t allow you to drive, you can still benefit from getting a placard when you ride as a passenger and need access to convenient parking places.

4. There are several steps to traveling safely with an oxygen tank.

If you’re driving, make sure that there’s no way your oxygen tank can tip over. It’s recommended to put the tank in the seat next to you and put a seatbelt on it so it won’t fall over if you have to stop suddenly. If someone is sitting in the passenger seat, put the oxygen concentrator on the floor by their feet so your cannula can still reach your nose. Never put your O2 behind you. If it were to malfunction in some way, it would be dangerous for you to try and reach for it.

While out on the road, always leave a window open slightly for ventilation so the oxygen won’t accumulate in your vehicle. Most importantly, make sure your concentrator’s battery is always fully charged when you leave your house. If the battery dies while you’re out, you could end up having a medical emergency. To be extra cautious, purchase a car charger to avoid this scenario. You never know when you’ll have to take an unplanned detour or spend more time out on the road than you imagined.

Dr Handicap - disabled parking spots
Image by Robert Ruggiero on Unsplash: Take advantage of close parking places with a handicap parking permit while you require oxygen.

5. There are a few things to remember about handicap parking on oxygen support.

Wondering how to park when you’re on oxygen support? Remember that it’s crucial to never leave your portable oxygen in your car when you’re not there. Heat damage can result in a permanently ruined unit that will require you to purchase another one. It’s always best to carry your oxygen with you when you leave your car, even if you don’t need it.

In terms of parking, the best place to park if you’re on oxygen support is as close to the entrance of the location as possible so that you have the shortest distance to walk. Your handicap parking permit can help you do just that. Stick to parking in designated wheelchair-accessible spots whenever possible so that you have enough space to get in and out of your vehicle with your oxygen tank.

Your usage of supplemental oxygen shouldn’t keep you from living a full life. Apply for a handicap placard to get more accessible parking places and use your tank responsibly. Then it’s still quite possible for you to venture out into the world anytime you wish!

Featured image by Robina Weermeijer on Unsplash

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