Having a temporary or permanent disability can make getting around challenging. People with functional disabilities often have to put in much more effort to complete a task than those without. Because of this, even day-to-day activities such as commuting to the office or going to the grocery store can become a hassle. But for many with disabilities, that hassle can be lessened by using a handicap placard.
Handicap placards help people with disabilities navigate public places in a way that’s more accessible. They aren’t about giving special treatment, but about making certain areas and activities accessible to people with disabilities in an equitable manner.
In the US, each state has its own rules and regulations surrounding handicap placards that determine who can get one, how it can be used, and if it can be used over state lines. These regulations are designed to keep people from abusing the system so that those who genuinely need a handicap parking placard can obtain one and use it effectively. But how do you go about getting a disabled parking permit in the state of Texas? Read on for a complete and comprehensive guide.
Who can legally issue a Texas parking permit for the disabled?
To get a parking placard in Texas, you first need to know where to go – unfortunately, there aren’t stores on every corner that provide legally issued parking passes to people in need! To get a parking permit in Texas, you must go through your local county tax office. They deal with all things vehicle- and license-related in the state.
County tax offices are located across the state. Specific locations include:
- Anderson County Tax Office: 703 N. Mallard Ste. 104 Palestine, TX.
- Travis County Tax Office: 2433 Ridgepoint Drive, Austin, TX 78754
- El Paso County Tax Office: 301 Manny Martinez Drive #1, El Paso, TX 79905
- Tarrant County Tax Office: 100 E Weatherford St Fort Worth, TX 76196-0301
- Bexar County Tax Office: 223 N Pecos La Trinidad San Antonio, TX 78207
- Harris County Tax Office: 1001 Preston St. Houston TX, 77002
- Dallas County Tax Office: 500 Elm Street Suite 1200 Dallas TX, 75202
- Mclennan County Tax Office: 215 N 5th St. Waco, TX 76701
- Montgomery County Tax Office: 400 N San Jacinto St. Conroe, TX 77301
- Collin County Tax Office: 2300 Bloomdale Rd. Ste 2303 McKinney, TX 75071
- Denton County Tax Office: 1505 E. McKinney Denton, TX 76209-4525
- Hidalgo County Tax Office: 2804 S. Business Hwy 281 Edinburg, TX 78540
- Fort Bend County Tax Office: 1317 Eugene Heimann Circle Richmond, TX 77469-3623
This list is not exhaustive – if you don’t see your area on the list above, there are many more counties with tax offices close to you. To help you figure out where you need to go to get your handicap placard in Texas, you can search your county for your local office on the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles County Tax Offices page.
What types of disabled parking permits are available?
There are several types of permits you can explore if you need a handicap parking placard. There is a temporary red permit that caters to people who have a temporary disability (i.e. one that they are expected to heal from within six months). People who opt for this type of permit may have a broken leg or arm or any other temporary restriction that makes it difficult for them to get around.
There is also the standard blue permanent card, which is designed to provide disabled parking access to people with disabilities that will not go away anytime within the foreseeable future. Blue placards are provided to people with permanent conditions and can be renewed every four years.
A license plate with the International Symbol of Access is another option for someone with a permanent disability. The license plate lets people know that the person driving the car has a permanent disability and can access accessible parking spots legally.
The fourth kind of parking placard is strictly reserved for disabled veterans. This type of permit comes with license plates that can be adhered to a person’s car, signifying their right to use disabled spots. As of January 2022, all license plates must have the International Symbol of Access to be considered valid.
When a person has one of the placards or plates above, they can:
- Park in any permit-only spot dedicated for use by people with disabilities
- Park in front of any state or government parking meters for free (the caveat being that you must only stay within the allotted time limit – if you require more time, certain cities may extend the meter time through new ordinances)
Who qualifies for handicap parking in TX?
Having a qualifying condition is the only way to receive a handicap placard in Texas. These conditions are a group of health disorders that hinder a person’s mobility or ease of getting around. Each condition must meet the requirements to be termed a disability, which according to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, means:
- Visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye with corrective lenses
- Visual acuity of more than 20/200 alongside a limited field of vision in which the widest diameter of the visual field subtends an angle of 20 degrees or less
- Mobility issues that make it challenging to move around
Several health disorders fall under the category of a disability that affects mobility, including:
- Lung disease
- Cardiac deficiency
- Confinement to a wheelchair
- Disorders that affect gait
- Any condition that requires the use of a cane, crutch, brace, or any other type of assistive device
The vision issues that are considered a disability can develop as a result of a plethora of different conditions, so the vision symptoms themselves are regarded as the qualifying factor instead of the specific disease. Some disorders that could affect visual acuity include:
- Diabetic retinopathy
- Age-related macular degeneration
You can speak to your health care provider to determine if your specific disorder qualifies based on the mobility or vision issues mentioned above.
How much is a handicap placard in TX?
To make things easier for people with disabilities, the state of Texas takes finances into account when it comes to issuing handicap parking placards. According to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, people who require the use of permanent placards or plates do not have to pay any fee to receive them. There is also no fee to apply. That said, those with temporary disabilities do have to pay an upfront fee of five dollars for their placard. If a person requires more than one placard, they will have to pay the same five-dollar fee for each placard they request.
While there is no fee for permanent disabled parking permits, there is a limit to how many people can get. For example, if a person with a disability would prefer license plates to a placard, they are only allowed one pair alongside their single placard. People without disabled license plates can access two placards: one they can keep in their vehicle and one to take with them when being escorted in someone else’s vehicle.
How do I get a handicap parking permit in TX?
There are several steps you must take before getting a handicap parking permit in the state of Texas. First, you must determine if you qualify. To do this, you can visit your primary health care provider with the VTR-214 form. This form acts as your application, and a dedicated portion must be filled out by your doctor.
The disability section asks your doctor to declare that you have a disability as outlined by the state, and to disclose whether it is permanent or temporary. Your doctor must provide the following:
- Your name (the patient)
- Their name
- Professional License Number
- The date
- Their signature
- Mailing address
After they have filled out the form, you must fill out your portion. The application page will request the following:
- The type of application: You will have to determine whether you are applying for one or two placards, disabled person license plates, or disabled license plates and one placard
- Personal details: Your name, mailing address, contact information, and ID or driver’s license number will be included
- Identification statement: The identification statement requires you to confirm whether you are applying for yourself or someone else
- License plates: If you’re applying for disabled plates, you will complete the section required with your vehicle information, such as the make, model, license plate number, and VIN
This form must be filled out to the best of your ability and with accurate information only.
Once your forms are ready, you will need to decide how you want to submit the information to your local county tax office. You have two options to choose from: in person or through the mail. There’s not a great deal of difference between the two – it all depends on what method you prefer. If you want to save time while applying in person, you can call the local county office ahead of time to inquire about making an appointment so you don’t have to wait.
How long does it take to get a handicap placard in TX?
After submitting your application, you will have to wait a period of time before receiving your placard – it takes a while for forms to be processed and approved. The wait times may vary depending on how quickly the application is processed. Typically, it takes about two to four weeks to receive your placard in the mail, but it can take as long as eight weeks.
Your placard will be mailed out to the mailing address you provided. However, if you opted for disabled parking plates, you may have to take your car to the county tax office to pick them up and place them on your vehicle. There is little difference between getting a placard or plates in terms of wait times.
Can I use my TX handicap placard in another state?
Most states have an agreement regarding handicap placards to allow people with disabilities to move freely throughout the country while still having the same parking access. Most states will allow you to use your handicap placard even if you acquired it in Texas. That means parking spaces, meters, and other designated areas in most U.S. states are open to you if you have your plates or placards on display.
How should I display my parking placard?
Once fitted, your license plates remain on display without you having to think about it. But a parking placard is a different story, and to ensure you don’t get a ticket or fine for illegally parking in a space designated for disabled drivers, you must display your permit correctly. Typically, people hang their disabled parking permits from the rearview mirror because it’s a highly visible area in all vehicles.
You should never move your permit from its spot unless you travel with another person. In Texas, people with disabilities being driven around by others can still use their parking placards for accessibility. The person escorting you must have the permit clearly displayed at all times.
Let’s sum up
Getting a disabled parking pass in Texas isn’t hard when you know what to do! To recap, the steps involved in getting your placard or license plates in the Lone Star State include:
- Getting diagnosed with a qualifying condition
- Obtaining the proper forms online so you can fill them out
- Bringing the forms to your health care provider to declare that you have a disability, and that it would be beneficial for you to have a parking placard
- Looking up your local county tax office to find out where to go to submit your forms
- Choosing between mailing in the form or bringing it in person
- Once you have submitted the form, waiting for processing and for the placard to be delivered, or for word on when you can go into the county tax office and collect it
Getting around with a disability isn’t always easy, but when you have the right tools available to you, it can be a lot less challenging and a much more pleasant experience.
Featured image by Michael Brennan on Unsplash